Shopping Trends To Watch During The 2021 Holiday Season

11.17.2021 Articles
By Sargena Narsa, PR & Communications Content Specialist

The pandemic generated a new normal of shopping, shipping, and consumer spending, which will continuously present itself this upcoming holiday season and throughout the next year. In comparison to last year’s holiday season, retailers and shoppers should expect to face similar industry-wide supply chain challenges. The pandemic created a domino effect of labor shortages, product shortages, and delivery delays, making it the perfect storm for brands and shoppers this holiday season.  

Last year’s holiday season transformed the way shoppers buy, and brands sell by shifting from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce. This year, new challenges are presenting themselves to brands and consumers. The way brands navigate through supply chain challenges will ultimately influence a consumer’s purchase decision.  

As consumers raise their expectations for the holiday season, a brand is accountable at each point of their shopping experience, including their e-commerce experience. A multitude of brands have experienced a disruption in their supply chain over the past year, making it difficult to reassure customers that certain products will be in stock during the hectic holiday shopping season.  

As the price of raw materials and shipment increases, consumers must face the consequences through rising prices. Brands and consumers are finding ways to navigate these challenges by shopping early, participating in sales, and staying connected on and offline. 

Early Holiday Shoppers Navigating Supply Chain Disruptions 

Brands and consumers are reevaluating their shopping plans this holiday season in order to avoid global supply chain disruptions. Besides delivery delays and inventory shortages, inflated prices are also affecting the way consumers shop. 66% of consumers report that they are concerned about supply chain issues disrupting their holidays, while 92% believe more disruptions are on the horizon.  

Consumers are willing and wanting to start shopping earlier this year with hopes of avoiding bare shelves and “out of stock” signs. Over half of consumers started holiday shopping or are planning to shop early to avoid inventory shortages. Experts advise consumers to start holiday shopping as soon as possible. The holiday rush could make inventory shortages and delivery delays even worse, leaving stores with empty shelves.  

72% of shoppers will participate in early holiday shopping to take advantage of sales and deals. Shoppers report that they started shopping early in order to ensure product availability (50%) and avoid shipping delays (45%).  

Experts are also advising consumers to focus their early shopping on specific items, such as, trending products that have gone viral on social media. More common and general products should not be as affected by the supply chain. Although there are product shortages, the most sought-after products are likely to be hard to get your hands on has the holidays approach. 

Seasonal sales are much different this time around. Big-box retailers, such as, Amazon, Target, and Best Buy have already started their Black Friday deals. Yup, that’s right – Black Friday started in October for these retailers as brands and consumers are preparing for product shortages. 

Black Friday Redefined  

To kick off the holiday shopping season, Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals will be the driving factor for early shoppers. It is expected that over 57% of shoppers will participate in the sales, including Gen Z (72%), Millennials (74%), and Gen X (62%) shoppers. 

Experts predict that Black Friday will have the largest number of sales this year, with sales increasing by +22% in comparison to Cyber Monday at +15%. Although Black Friday is typically notable for having door-buster deals within physical retail stores, the rise of e-commerce has generated a shift in sales. 56% of shoppers claim they will participate in Black Friday from the comfort of their home.  

With concerns of the pandemic still looming, physical storefronts can cater to the needs of consumers by offering curbside pick-up options to ensure the health and safety of shoppers. This also gives customers the convenience factor by allowing them to only drive to the store when the desired products are available.  

Will Consumers Keep Shopping as Prices Rise? 

It is projected that there will be a +7.4% increase in spending compared to last year during the holiday shopping season. Although product pricing is increasing due to the rising cost of raw materials, consumers are still ready to splurge this holiday season. 34% of shoppers plan to spend more on holiday gifts this season, while 41% intend to spend the same amount as last year. Gen Zers and Millennials are more likely to expand their budgets this holiday season in comparison to last year.  

It is forecasted that e-commerce sales will grow by +11-15% YoY during the holiday season, which will result in e-commerce holiday sales of $210 billion to $218 billion. “We anticipate strong consumer spending for the upcoming holiday season. As vaccination rates rise and consumers are more comfortable being outside of the home, we are likely to see increased spending…” said Daniel Bachman, Deloitte’s U.S. economic forecaster. 

As younger generations are increasing their budgets, Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) has become a popular payment option among these groups. 75% of Gen Zers, 76% of Millennials, and 60% of Gen Xers are seeking flexible payment options, making it a popular payment method this holiday season. Younger generations are leaning towards BNPL as it makes larger purchases more accessible, while also spreading out costs over the holidays. 

Attracting and Retaining Customers in The Omnichannel Universe 

Brands that demonstrate efficiency, transparency, and ease of product access will win over holiday shoppers. For brands and retailers, it’s key to maintain customer loyalty and satisfaction by remaining transparent throughout the buyer’s shopping journey. A brand’s bottom line may be greatly impacted if the needs of consumers are not met, therefore, brands must find an opportunity to be set apart.  

Ultimately, brands need to attract and retain customers by providing them with ease and convenience throughout their buying journey. That means, meeting the customers where they are, whether they’re shopping online or in store. 80% of shoppers expect a seamless shopping experience that’s connected online and offline.  

This holiday season, 62% of shoppers are turning to big-box retailers to shop, as many of them offer the convenience of purchasing everything from gifts to groceries in one stop. Younger generations, including Gen Zers and Millennials, are more likely to conduct their shopping in malls. As social media shopping platforms expand, brands should take advantage of the platforms to drive more traffic to their e-commerce sites.  

81% of online-to-offline shoppers select store-first, while 43% seek coupons and discounts along their purchase journey. 87% of e-commerce shoppers choose product-first, with only 11% seeking coupons.  

Holiday shoppers are more likely to explore new information, consider new products, and complete purchases when they are engaged with your brand. Brands must seek opportunities to get their products reviewed and in the hands of influencers who can put their products in front of a larger audience.  

New technologies could bridge the gap between your online and offline shopping experience. 72% of shoppers claim exceptional customer service and highly trained sales associates are essentials in ensuring positive shopping experiences that lead to sales.  

Stay connected to your customers by offering exceptional customer service and live product demonstrations through our video-first sales solution, Tap-a-Tech™. With Tap-a-Tech™, a representative for your brand will instantly connect with your customers whether they’re online or in store. Shoppers can stay connected through in-store or on-product QR codes, through your brand’s website, via chat, or through video calls.  

Schedule a demo to learn more about how our on-demand video-powered sales solution can positively influence the buyer’s journey: Tap a Tech | BDS Connected Solutions for Retail Marketing (