How This Holiday Shopping Season Is Different

The holidays are some of the most joyous times of the year, but as any holiday shopper knows, they can also be some of the most stressful. Trying to navigate holiday sales like Black Friday can be tough even during the best of times, but COVID-19 has certainly shaken things up even more for consumers and brands alike in 2020. 

At the School of ACE Blog, we understand the importance of planning a safe and stress-free holiday shopping routine, which is why we’ve compiled a look at what holiday shopping might be like this year and what changes you can expect.

More Holiday Shopping Will be Online

Like with many other events during COVID-19, holiday shopping is going virtual this year. According to a poll conducted by Morning Consult, 47% of Americans are planning to do most of their holiday shopping online this year.1 Online retailers like Amazon have hired an additional 175,000 workers to meet the increased demand for online shopping during COVID-19.2

Retailers Are Allowing Consumers to Order Curbside

The same Morning Consult poll also states that 35% of consumers will be shopping less at malls this year3, leading many brands that typically offer most of their sales in-store to shift online. Target gives customers the option to order online and pick their items up at the store, while Best Buy and Kohl’s are both expanding their online ordering capabilities to allow similar offerings.4  The e-commerce platform Shopify even has a guide that helps retailers with physical shops to add curbside pickup for their customers.5

Holiday Season Begins With Prime Day

Amazon postponed its annual Prime Day from July to October this year, settling on Oct 13-14th for their annual deal event.6 Not only is Amazon one of the top online retailers for yearly holiday shopping, but its Prime Day served as the unofficial beginning of the holiday season.  Many brands are beginning their holiday sales earlier than ever to keep pace with Amazon’s big deal days. In order to avoid large crowds on Black Friday, stores like Target and Walmart announced plans to hold sales during the same time as Amazon, while Best Buy and Macy’s were also starting their deals in October.7

Shopping for “Experiential” Gifts are Down

One obvious consequence of COVID-related quarantine measures will be the decrease in sales of experience-related gifts such as spa certificates or theatre tickets. Sales in experiential gifts dipped during both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, while general merchandise sales were up to three times what they were in 2019 according to a release from the NPD Group.8 This is expected to continue for the winter holidays as consumers continue to be concerned about COVID-related safety measures.

Shipping Times Will Be Delayed

The increase in online orders has caused shipping times to be delayed since the beginning of the pandemic9, and this is expected to continue into the holiday season.  Delivery companies have announced hiring increases in order to combat these delays, including FedEx’s decision to hire an additional 70,000 workers.1 Companies like UPS are encouraging customers to mail their packages as soon as possible, with Christmas cutoff dates listed between December 16th for UPS Ground Shipping to December 19th for UPS 3 Day Select.10

By doing your holiday shopping in advance and taking advantage of online ordering and curbside pickup, you can ensure a smooth and safe shopping experience.  And check out this article for a closer look at the best time of year to snag the top deals on each item.