The holiday season is almost here. Retailers have only a few weeks left to finish their to-do lists to prep their stores, online sites, and marketing campaigns. Deloitte predicts overall holiday retail sales to increase between 4.5% and 5% this year, passing $1.1 trillion in sales from November to January. They expect eCommerce sales alone to increase 14% to 18%.
See more holiday shopping predictions for this holiday season below.
Our 6 Holiday Shopping Predictions for 2019
These are our top holiday retail predictions for 2019.
1. Customers shop early.
Cue the Christmas music even earlier.
Just like last year, consumers will start their holiday shopping early, taking advantage of sales way before Thanksgiving. According to Bazaarvoice, October is a month of research for shoppers looking at reviews, ratings and asking questions. Last year, the user-generated content (UGC) interaction rate on their network saw a sustained 8% increase from early October until early November, peaking at 11% on October 17th. Last year, a Bazaarvoice study also found that Veteran’s Day weekend is generally when holiday shopping begins, especially for product categories like electronics and toys.
This year we expect shoppers continue to research and prepare early for holiday purchases.
2. BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick Up In Store) Will Increase Sales.
More holiday shoppers are turning to online and mobile shopping. However, that doesn’t mean you should forget about the critical role that brick-and-mortar stores continue to play for retailers.
Last year, more than half of consumers expected to shop in the store. A main driver in this statistic was shoppers wanting to buy online, and pick up in store. Picking up in stores, especially around the holidays, allows for instant gratification and then the ability to do further shopping for in store deals.
Do you have a smooth process for BOPIS? Making online order pick up as easy as possible is an important part of the customer experience.
3. Email marketing wins.
How do retailers make their brand and products stand out during the holiday season? Email marketing.
Personal email inboxes get flooded with promotional emails during the weeks leading up to Christmas, especially for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. If you want to ensure high open and click rates, then you need to keep these email marketing best practices in mind:
- Number of emails sent
- Time of day sent
- Mobile responsiveness
- Subject lines
- Email call-to-action
It’s not enough to just send emails because you should. Retailers should put some serious thought into their promotional and transactional emails. A thoughtful email strategy will positively affect sales for retailers this year.
4. Online Shipping Time and Cost Matters.
More consumers shop online for holiday purchases. When they do, they compare shipping speed, cost, and options before hitting the buy button.
For the U.S., the second leading reason for choosing to shop on marketplaces is free and discounted shipping, according to the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper 2018.
If you want to win more customers over this holiday season, you’ll have to think about how attractive your shipping costs and times are. What’s your threshold for free shipping? Can you offer 2-day shipping or even overnight? Can customers pick up their items in store? In most cases, shoppers will first check for free shipping before they even look at your site or add a product to their shopping cart.
For this season, make sure that your shipping options are affordable, reliable, and clear. Don’t make customers look too hard for the shipping info they’re looking for. If you don’t, you might see shoppers abandoning your site earlier than before.
Tip: Don’t forget to include what your final shipping date is for guaranteed delivery by December 25th. Nothing’s worst for a customer then their order not making it in time to put under the tree.
5. Store Closings on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
Over the years, shoppers have seen “Black Friday” evolve into a chaotic, even violent, shopping event. The day has turned into a monstrous event that continues to cut into Thanksgiving. Stores now open as early as dinner time on Thursday, cutting into time with family and friends for both employees and customers. Black Friday continues to turn into the ugly reality of consumerism stark against a day meant for thankfulness just mere hours before.
Just like last year, we expect more stores to make a stand against Black Friday. Look no further than 2018 REI’s #optouside campaign as an example. Most stores probably won’t close completely for Black Friday like REI, but you can expect more notable stores to at least close their doors for Thanksgiving on Thursday. As Cyber Monday continues to rise as the biggest shopping day, there’s less of a reason for physical stores to rely on Black Friday as they used to. Let people skip the chaos and have more time to spend with each other.
Here’s the latest list of stores NOT opening on Thanksgiving: 2019 Thanksgiving Retail Store Closings.
6. Retail fraud artists keep busy.
Retailers and consumers aren’t the only busy people during the holiday season. Who else are we talking about? Fraud artists.
Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday have recently seen upticks in fraudulent activity. Fraud artists and cyber criminals look to these days to take advantage of large volumes of shoppers hungry for the best deals, whether in store or online. They’re take advantage of anyone who isn’t ready. Some examples of common holiday fraud are:
- Fake online websites
- Hacking personal or financial information over public wifi
- Fake charging stations for mobile devices to steal personal data
- Stealing credit information from online purchases
This year we expect the same. Make sure your customers are protected according to industry standards.
Holiday shopping has officially begun. What are some of your other predictions for this year? Let us know in the comments!