Two things are for sure this festive season:

  1. Many retailers badly need a successful season,
  2. This year is likely to be quite different to any that has been.

Let’s start this series by taking a look at just how different the season will be:

  • Half of U.S. shoppers say the pandemic will affect how they’ll shop for the holidays this year.
  • More than a third of U.S. shoppers who normally shop in store for Black Friday say they won’t this year.

Last year v this year (expected)

  • 78% of U.S. holiday shoppers used three or more channels to do their holiday shopping,
  • 58% of shopper-reported purchases were made online.

This year, it is expected those numbers will grow, as almost 75% of U.S. shoppers who plan to shop this season said they will shop online more for the holidays than they did in previous seasons, and a similar number said they would browse for gift ideas online and not in store.

Discovery online:

Prior to the pandemic, the in-store shopping experience often began long before shoppers arrived at a store. This is even more true today, as availability and local convenience has become a priority.

  • Searches for “available near me” have grown globally by more than 100% since last year.
  • 67% of shoppers said they plan to confirm online that an item is in stock before going to buy it.

That means it will be vital for retailers to be discoverable online because when people do shop in store, they’ll plan ahead and research online. The importance of accurate inventory information is underscored in order to alleviate the guesswork for shoppers, ensure your information is up to date and easily accessible with help from inventory ads. 

Local is power:

Given that the growing customer preference for shopping locally will likely continue into the holidays and beyond, understanding local buying intent will be paramount.

  • 66% of shoppers said they plan to shop more at local small businesses.

Consider providing shoppers with the right information about products available at your store, operation hours, and health and safety policies with tools like Local campaigns to reach people near your stores, across different locations.

People will seek safer, digitized ways of shopping in store

When shoppers do decide they’re willing to shop in store, it’s no surprise that safety is a key concern. This means what’s considered “in-store” shopping may look different this year, as alternatives like roadside pickup and contactless buying become the norm.

  • 47% of planned shoppers said they’ll use options to buy online, pickup in store/roadside pickup.
  • 53% of shoppers that plan to shop this season said they’ll choose to shop at stores that offer contactless shopping.


In-store shopping demand is prone to vary throughout the season, with people likely opting to shop during less volume-heavy times.

  • 70% of shoppers said they intend to plan their shopping earlier to avoid crowds,
  • 80% of planned shoppers will consolidate their shopping to make fewer trips than they did in previous years.

Plan ahead as the season will most likely start sooner. 

While this holiday season is one we’ll all be watching closely, it’s helpful to know that shoppers will be thinking — and buying — with a digital-first mindset. To stand out this year, ensure you’re giving people the information they need and the experience they expect.

Author Adrac

A Google Premier Partner

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