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2021 holiday consumer trends

2021 Holiday Shopping: 5 Consumer Trends to Watch Out For

Richard ClaytonRichard Clayton
September 27, 2021

It may be the middle of September, but before you know it, the winter holidays will be here in a blink of an eye, which is why consumers around the world are already beginning to compile their holiday wish list.

Thanks to the success of the vaccine rollout in many parts of the world earlier this year, 2021’s holiday shopping season is set to be the biggest yet. In fact, U.S. holiday retail sales are predicted to reach over a whopping $1 trillion, with eCommerce accounting for close to 19% of all holiday sales.

Below, we’ll go over five major consumer trends you should watch out for this year, so you can prepare ahead of time.

But before we do so, feel free to also check out the expert advice some of the world’s leading marketplaces have to help you maximize the 2021 holiday shopping season.

Consumer Trends for the 2021 Holiday Shopping Season

1. Online Shopping Will Continue to Soar

A recent holiday insights report by Shopkick revealed that out of 23,000 American consumers surveyed, 41% plan to shop online over the holidays in order to avoid crowds and exposure to COVID-19, proving that the pandemic is still impacting the way people shop.

While nationwide lockdowns may have been lifted, the spread of COVID-19 is certainly not stable in all parts of the country, which is having consumers hesitant about in-store shopping. In locations where the risk of exposure is very high, consumers will lean heavily on eCommerce thanks to its convenience, and, of course, safety.

2. Consumers Are Turning into Big Spenders

The pandemic may have had a huge impact on American household income, especially those who were furloughed during the peak of the spread, but close to 18 months later, shoppers still plan on spending more.

Shopkick’s 2021 holiday insights report showed that overall, 15% of shoppers plan to spend more this holiday season compared to last year, and 26% of Gen Z consumers have larger budgets, and half of them have more people to shop for. In fact, those who plan to spend more this year, are expecting to spend between $600-$1200.

Which categories will consumers be spending on the most?

  • Apparel – 31%
  • Electronics – 21%
  • Toys & Video Games – 19%
  • Household Items – 11%

 3. Shopping Will Start Early

Like every year, consumers will start shopping early. Last year, shoppers intended to shop early to avoid both crowds and items being out of stock, so similar trends are expected this year. According to Shopkick, 22% of consumers plan to shop even earlier than last year.

When do a majority of consumers plan to start their holiday shopping?

  • Between Black Friday & Cyber Monday – 27%
  • Before Thanksgiving – 25%
  • Black Friday – 15%
  • Before Halloween – 10%

Shoppers aren’t the only ones that should plan early, online sellers must be ahead of the game in order to stay afloat during the busy holiday rush. To meet early demand, eSellers should consider launching holiday promotions earlier than usual, improve and enhance their checkout experience and offer bigger discounts.

BONUS TIPS: To help you prepare for a strong holiday shopping season, we sat down with some of the biggest eCommerce marketplaces in the world who offer their best practices and expert advice on how to get ready and enjoy a profitable season.

Get expert advice on preparing your store for the holidays

4. Video Marketing, Gift Guides & Rewards Will Have Higher Influence

What is it that causes shoppers to make a final purchase? As someone who runs an eCommerce store, knowing what will trigger your consumer to make a purchase is an imperative part of your marketing strategy.

As eCommerce businesses like yours compete for consumers’ attention during the peak shopping season, a recent survey of 9,000 global video viewers found that as people increase their away-from-home activities and go on vacation, they still spend more time watching video content.

In addition, the survey found that consumers are incredibly receptive to ads when they’re watching videos which can make them eager to search for and purchase products they’ve seen.  In fact, nearly 6 in 10 survey respondents said they research the products or services they saw in an ad and more than half go on to purchase them.

A recent poll by Facebook found that half of all shoppers experience difficulty figuring out what gifts to buy, which suggests a real need for social discovery aids such as gift guides. Today, more and more consumers are turning to social apps for gift inspiration and recommendations. Holiday gift guides can offer a great solution to these types of shoppers as it inspires and narrows down the choice, which then helps the shopper make a purchase faster, ultimately boosting your store’s conversion.

In addition, holiday gift guides help introduce new trends or highlight best-selling products by putting everything in one place, providing a smoother shopping experience for your customers.

In addition to gift guides, online shoppers are also influenced by:

  • Requests from children and family members (59%)
  • Rewards (39%)
  • Weekly circulars (30%)
  • Word of mouth (21%)
  • Digital advertising (20%)

5. Perks Will Be a Big Deal

Holiday eCommerce isn’t solely about the biggest and best deals, but more about the benefits. According to Shopkick, here are the top online perks your consumers are looking for, so be ready to offer them.

  • Free shipping and returns – 94%
  • Fast delivery time – 60%
  • Flexible return policy – 31%
  • Buy now, pay later options – 19%

Wrapping Up

The 2021 holiday season is going to be a BIG one, and some consumer behaviors will be significantly different from last year, but a few things remain the same: shoppers will start their spending early, they’ll want to see even better deals as they have higher budgets, and they’re going to want to be able to easily make a purchase on social apps with the help of discovery aids.

As an online seller, it is imperative that you start planning your marketing campaigns early and order your inventory in time. With 102 days until Christmas, now is the time to get the ball rolling.

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