Top 2021 Holiday Shopping Trends

The 2021 holidays are upon us. With unusual challenges ahead, brands and retailers will have to navigate several variables in order to win this holiday season.

As we head into the heart of the 2021 holiday shopping season, marketers across every category are looking to put the past two years behind them in the hopes of a stronger Q4. With renewed consumer confidence and lower COVID-19 cases, this year’s holiday is forecasted to have modest year-over-year growth. While there is plenty of reason for optimism, there will still be challenges for both consumers and marketers.

In this article, we look at a few holiday retail trends and forecasts to help understand how consumer shopping behaviors have changed and what we can do to make sure sure marketers have a successful 2021 holiday season.

Check out the 2021 Holiday Strategy Guide – Retail for an in-depth analysis and action plan for how to prepare for the holiday season.

2021 Holiday Shopping Season: The Variables at Play

Slowdowns, shortages, and shifts in consumer behavior.

  • Shortages from staffing to manufacturing materials to shipping containers will introduce additional hurdles for retailers this holiday.
  • 57% of consumers plan to shop earlier this year compared to 2020.
  • Shortages from staffing to manufacturing materials to shipping containers will introduce additional hurdles for retailers this holiday.

2020 Insights vs 2021 Projections: Consumer Buying Trends

2020 Shopper Insights

In-store shopping is the go-to for last-minute gifts for shoppers who can’t wait for shipping or just left shopping until the last minute. About 40% of shoppers did not start shopping until December.

2021 Holiday Marketing Trends & Projections

Sales are expected to grow 7% this holiday YoY, so marketers can take a bigger slice of the pie by starting earlier and being more strategic in their targeting and messaging. Start driving urgency sooner to get shoppers in-store ahead of inventory issues.

2021 holiday marketing trends: by the numbers

For brands to successfully influence a giving spirit among their customers this holiday season, they will need to deploy flexible digital solutions that can be optimized across multiple media channels. This will allow them to swiftly respond to changing consumers’ needs and fluctuating inventory levels in real-time. Equally important will be the ability to find and reach last-minute shoppers before the traditional end-of-year marketing blitz, which represents over 15% of holiday shoppers each year.

Consumer Behavior: Holiday Foot Traffic Trends

Check out a snapshot of foot traffic levels in retail and shopping centers from this past year.

Graph of holiday shopping trends in foot traffic from November 2020-October 2021.Since it’s likely that holiday shopping will pick up earlier than usual to compete with supply shortages, get ahead of your competitors by putting your marketing plan in action now in order to capture early bird shoppers. Also, consider that since foot traffic will likely increase this year, boosting your promotional budget in preparation for a busy season.


2021 Holiday Marketing: The Importance of an Omnichannel Approach

Hybrid shoppers are here to stay, making your omnichannel marketing strategy more important than ever.

Your 2021 holiday marketing strategy should include an omnichannel approach.

As a result of store closures in 2020, a significant amount of holiday shopping moved online. While eCommerce sales have continuously grown and are expected to increase 11-15% this holiday, many consumers have adopted a hybrid shopping approach blending online research and purchases in-store.

According to Think With Google, while 70% of people surveyed said that their shopping experience would involve online touch points, only 14% of U.S. shoppers say that they will not be shopping in-store this holiday season. An important reminder for marketers that the slice of shoppers who are online-only shoppers is still just a sliver compared to in-store only and hybrid shoppers. As a result, getting people in stores will be the main charge for marketers.