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The holiday season will be full of challenges for US retailers

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

Aug 25, 2020


With one month to go until Q4, the last sales period of 2020 - typically the season that generates the most revenue - retailers are gearing up for lingering challenges, including store closures, high unemployment, overstock from unsold merchandise and a downturn in consumer spending.

Forrester, an American market research company that provides advice on existing and potential impact of technology to its clients, says Q4 planning scenarios should continually update economic, health/infection, consumer sentiment, and other significant cost and market factors.

The latest research says one-quarter of US online adults anticipate spending less this year in comparison to holiday shopping in 2019 and one in five worry about going into stores due to holiday crowds.

In the US, holiday shopping typically starts November 1st, and Forrester suggests retailers should update their customer and employee in-store experiences, from contactless payments and redesigned physical spaces to employee health checks and store associate enablement tools.

Retailers must also think through changing weather conditions, the strain on logistics and costs to meet rising online orders, and crowd management during (normally) some of the heaviest shopping days of the year.

A trend report from Bazaarvoice published in July offers predictions to help retailers plan for the final quarter of 2020. Collating current information from over 140 brands and retailers in North America and Europe, as well as over 6,200 brands and retailer sites from the 2019 holiday season, 85 percent of retailers believe online sales will increase this holiday season compared to last, with 61 percent expecting higher engagement and/or purchasing through social media channels. Over half of brands and retailers are investing more in e-commerce website upgrades this holiday season.

Savvy shoppers to look for sales

While many associate Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales as peak buying days for holiday shoppers, the entire month of November sees elevated page views and order count – in 2019, page views were up 31.4 percent and order count was up 65.9 percent compared to usual. With the majority of shoppers (86.8 percent) saying they purchase gifts during holiday sales to take advantage of the deals, the impact of Covid-19 looks set to exacerbate this as consumers consider their finances more carefully.

For more information and insight visit www.forrester.com and bazaarvoice.com.

Image Black Friday via FU

Holiday Season