The pandemic is pushing more shopping online as a fresh wave of Covid-19-related lockdowns create uncertainties heading into the year-end holiday shopping season.
“To say that this holiday season will be a time of profound change would be an understatement,” according to the November edition of Periscope by McKinsey & Co., the consulting company. “The Covid-19 pandemic is upending the retail industry to an extent that would have been unimaginable one year ago.”
These are some of the trends identified by McKinsey in a survey in September of over 3,500 holiday shoppers in the US, UK, China, German and France:
1. Strong consumer intent to participate in holiday shopping
China topped the list with 93% of those surveyed saying they planned to take part in holiday shopping events. This compared with the US (72%), France (68%), UK (64%) and Germany (63%). The data revealed that many consumers were sick of the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding Covid-19 and longed for the normalcy and familiarity of big holiday shopping events.
2. Spending is moving online
Holiday shoppers are moving to online sites, mobile apps, and click-and-collect for safer and more convenient experiences. Across the five countries surveyed, 37% of respondents said they planned to spend more online during the holidays this year. In the US, an uptick in digital adoption is expected to boost e-commerce holiday sales by at least 19%.
3. Consumer loyalty is being disrupted
More than 60% of global consumers have tried a new shopping behavior as a result of changes brought on by Covid-19 since March. 40% have shopped at a new retailer and one-third have tried a different brand of product, especially less expensive private-label brands. Gen Z and high earners are the most prone to switching brands.
4. Health and safety are top priorities
The pandemic is damping enthusiasm for the shopping mall. 45% of survey respondents said they planned to venture into stores, down sharply from 65% last year.
5. Shopping festivals now stretch into weeks
The day after Thanksgiving in the US is traditionally the biggest deal day of the year. This year, due to the pandemic, retailers stretched their Black Friday promotions into multiple days, even weeks, to avoid long lines of people flooding into stores.
Shoppers are also bringing forward their holiday shopping to avoid out-of-stock items, limited curbside pickup slots and delivery delays. As much as $26 billion in global retail spending that normally takes place in November would have been pulled into October this year.