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Holiday shopping starts early this year, with online sales to surge

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

Oct 25, 2020

Retail

Holiday shopping starts early this year, with more than half of American shoppers having started in October, according to insight from payment company Affirm.

More than 4 in 10 Americans have canceled holiday travel, and 73 percent plan to use that money on the holiday gift season instead.

About half of shoppers (47 percent) plan to do the majority of their holiday shopping on mobile. The mobile surge is also expected to be part of an explosion in online holiday shopping.

Affirm recommends retailers to stress-test their sites to ensure being able to hand a spike in orders. This is especially important for Thanksgiving Day, as more stores choose to close on this usually busy shopping day. Retail analysts predict that Thanksgiving weekend online sales will break records in 2020.

Many shoppers are stretching their budgets this year due to economic uncertainty, says Affirm. In its survey 42 percent of shoppers are interested in using a pay-over-time option for buying holiday gifts this year.

Avoid crowds

The pandemic and ongoing social distancing measures has pushed holiday shopping to online channels over brick and mortar. According to the Associated Press retailers are kicking off the holiday season earlier than ever this year in hopes of avoiding big in-store crowds and shipping bottlenecks in November and December.

Shipping giant DHL is advising American retailers to avoid holding big sales in December, since delivery could be delayed. Many retailers struggled to fulfill orders in a timely manner at the onset of the pandemic due to either an unanticipated surge in demand for specific products or receiving inventory late from suppliers.

Online shopping sales to surge

eMarketer projects total U.S. retail sales will decline 10.5 percent this year to 4.894 trillion dollars, but e-commerce sales will be up 18 percent.

Image via Affirm