For many Americans, fall is the best time of year, but for retailers, it's the calm before the storm. According to a recent report from the National Retail Federation (NRF), holiday sales are expected to increase in November and December by about 4% this year, as compared to last year, for a total close to $680 billion.1
This represents a huge opportunity for retailers to be prepared for holiday shoppers. Here are three trends that will shape the holiday shopping season this year, along with advice on how to take advantage of them.
Shoppers Start Planning Early (and They Want Help)
While plenty of holiday shoppers will wait until the last minute, research from the NRF shows that the majority (63%) get their shopping done in November and the first two weeks of December.2 What's interesting, though, is how many shoppers start planning for the holidays early.
According to the same NRF report, a quarter of the shoppers surveyed said they begin researching their holiday shopping in October.2 Also, many shoppers are looking for help from retailers to keep them organized. The survey showed that while only a quarter of shoppers used online wish lists and registries last year, more than 6 in 10 would like to use more online wish lists in the future.2
Top tip: Retailers that provide their customers with interactive tools for researching and planning their purchases as early as possible in the shopping season could see a potential sales lift, while also building customer loyalty.
Online Shopping is Booming, Mobile Leads the Way
Holiday sales are expected to grow this year. And e-commerce will play a significant role. One projection has U.S. e-commerce sales jumping almost 16.6% during the 2017 holiday season and accounting for an 11.5% share of all holiday shopping.3
The growth in e-commerce sales extends into mobile shopping as well. According to a recent study published by Discover Global Network and 451 Research, 76% of U.S. consumers surveyed who shop online had completed a purchase via a mobile website. If you aren’t preparing for mobile shoppers, you risk missing this new and important revenue opportunity.
Top tip: If you run an e-commerce business, at a minimum, make sure your website is mobile optimized. To provide a truly integrated experience, consider how your website and mobile apps provide additional utility and value for customers. Whether it's engaging customers through chatbots that provide recommendations, or sending push notifications to notify customers of sales, the online experience needs to be as well planned as the traditional retail experience.
Black Friday Now More Than a “Day”
While Black Friday continues to represent one of the biggest shopping days of the year, it's becoming increasingly inaccurate to call it just a "day." Last year, retailers began promoting their Black Friday sales earlier than ever before. For example, one large e-commerce retailer even promoted a Black Friday month.
In this phenomena, many retailers are conditioning consumers to expect everything to be on sale every day. This presents an obvious problem. Whether Black Friday (or the also popular Cyber Monday) happens over one day or one month, consumers expect to get the best deals possible no matter when and where they shop.
Top tip: Of course, while Black Friday as a singular, one-day event is fading, there is still a potent appeal of this commercial holiday. Brick-and-mortar retailers need to staff appropriately, and e-commerce retailers need to make sure their websites are equipped to handle the increase in traffic.
Don't Miss Out on the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Holiday shopping can represent a significant portion of total annual retail sales. As such, it’s absolutely essential for retailers to stay on top of these trends, as well as others that continue to emerge, if they want to better set themselves up for success for the rest of the year.
In 2017, that means planning for a mobile-first consumer that starts their research early and is primed to find the best deal possible. It means creating content to help the consumer move from research to consideration to purchasing your product. It means connecting your instore and online and mobile touchpoints into a cohesive omni-channel experience.
Are you prepared? Taking advantage of the aforementioned holiday shopping trends are a good place to start. Good luck and Happy Holidays!
1 “NRF Forecasts Holiday Sales to Increase Between 3.6 and 4 percent,” National Retail Federation, October 2017.
2 “2017 Retail Holiday Planning Playbook,” National Retail Federation, July 2017.
3 “US Holiday Shopping 2017: Shoppers Continue Online Migration for This Year’s Season,” eMarketer, August 2017.
4 “Mobile Commerce Readiness: A Merchant and Consumer Perspective,” 451 Research, 2017.
The article and information provided herein are sponsored by Discover® Global Network for informational purposes only based on independent research, and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice.
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