How Retailers Can Respond to Shifting Holiday Shopping Behavior


Bryan LeFauve
3 Minute Read

No one is surprised that shopping habits have changed over the last few years. The rise of ecommerce and a market dominated by retail giants such as Amazon and Walmart have led to the majority of shoppers tracking their purchases to their doorstep versus carrying them out of a store. With the pandemic restrictions likely to carry through the holiday season in most of the country, shopping malls and strip plazas are going to be significantly less trafficked than virtual storefronts this year.

However, all is not lost for local and regional retailers looking to cash in after dismal months of sales. Some surprising trends have set up this holiday season to be one worth investing in for local retailers.

Shop Online, Shop Local

With a more than 129% year-over-year growth in online shopping in 2020, one would expect that anyone who doesn’t have an Amazon storefront is going to suffer this holiday shopping season. However, according to the recent Visa Back to Business Survey, over 60% of consumers are planning on spending half or more of their shopping dollars at local retailers this season. Combine this with more limited opportunities to shop in person, and consumers are looking to support local businesses online. To capture their share of the online market, local retailers must develop an ecommerce presence and look at how to promote their business more digitally and socially. Providing an easy shopping experience that doesn’t feel cumbersome is also important.

Joining Forces

Many local retailers are finding strength in numbers. According to a recent post from the National Retail Federation’s Small Business Council, small businesses are finding opportunities by bundling their products or services with other small businesses to create a seamless experience for the customer. Think craft beer companies teaming up with local apparel shops. A museum shop bundling with a farm-to-table cheese company. The possibilities are endless and bring a more holistic experience to the customer while benefiting a larger group of retailers and sharing marketing costs.

Research Before Adding to Cart

While consumers have always spent time learning about substantial purchases before they buy, the emerging trends of 2020 point toward a redefinition of an impulse buy. As opposed to putting a few extra items in their cart while in store, impulse buying online still allows for considerable access to reviews and other forms of research that can influence purchasing decisions. It is therefore critical that retailers know and understand what their reputation and reviews are online so they can ensure a positive influence on shoppers. While this is considerably less controllable than outbound marketing, the management of your online reputation can be the difference between feast and famine during the holiday shopping rush when consumers are making split-second decisions on what to add to their cart.

If you’re a small business looking for ways to extend your reach and increase sales this holiday season, contact us. We’re here to help.

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