2020 has proved a major challenge for small businesses, and the holiday season might be the most trying time yet for our sector. We are about to experience a holiday season unlike any other we’ve experienced. Of course, we don’t expect all holiday plans to vanish completely, but there’s no denying that things will look quite different this year. Otherwise packed department stores, small businesses, local restaurants and even outdoor spaces will have to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Even more, many household family holiday gatherings will have to limit their festivities in order to keep everyone safe.
Still, we are confident that the small business sector will survive the 2020 holiday season, and we at ECEDA are here to ensure especially that the small businesses of Elmore County are equipped with the resources and knowledge they need to thrive during what could be their busiest and most productive months of the year. In order to best navigate the upcoming months, we’ve put together a list of tips and trends for the 2020 holiday season based on consumer shopping habits and predictions.
Trend #1: Online Shopping is Still Important
Keep a keen eye on your company’s online presence. To ensure the safety of themselves and their loved ones, many individuals are opting to shop online this holiday season. Increased e-commerce sales during the pandemic indicates that more consumers have gotten more familiar with new e-commerce websites and will likely visit them again for the holidays. That’s not to say though, that people will totally be out of stores.
According to a “Peak to Recovery” study conducted in May across 12 countries by Criteo, plenty of U.S. consumers miss going to physical stores and plan to actually do so before the peak of the holiday season.
- 64% miss going to physical stores.
- 65% returned to shopping malls by mid-October.
- 88% plan to continue purchasing gifts online and sending them to recipients.
Constant Contact says that small businesses with an online presence are more likely to win over holiday shoppers. According to their research, small businesses have a massive opportunity this holiday season if they are selling online. 71 percent of those polled said they plan on buying items on their shopping lists from small businesses, and only 10 percent said they needed to visit a physical store to buy from said small business.
Trend #2: The Focus is Actually on Small Business
That’s right! Consumers have really backed small businesses since the onset of the pandemic for a variety of reasons, and it really makes sense. First, shopping smaller has helped individuals limit their exposure to virus outbreaks (as opposed to shopping in malls or larger, more crowded retailers). And second, local retailers have enabled them to grab essentials without traveling far from home.
According to the research conducted by Constant Contact, about 70 percent of shoppers polled said they had visited a small business (either online or in-store) at least once a month since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. One-fifth have made it a habit, essentially choosing to shop small at least five times per month. Compared to 2019, 60 percent said they have made more of an effort to support local businesses in their community this year, and another 20 percent still intend to do so before the end of 2020.
That means that your consumers are looking to you now. Your consumers need you just as you need them! There’s no time like the present to refresh your storefront shelves and your online inventory. The holiday season is officially upon us.
Trend #3: The Safe Experience
For retail experiences that do take place in-person, 2020 emphasizes health, safety, and efficiency. Although retailers are investing heavily in e-commerce, they also are reimagining the holiday store experience to ensure customers feel comfortable and safe in the COVID-19 era.
Retailers are creatively maximizing the use of “in-and-out” shopping to engage consumers with merchandise and sales associates in-store while pushing all other activities out of the store. Vacant retail spaces, kiosks, common areas, and outdoor space on sidewalks and in parking lots when weather permits are being utilized for payment, purchase of gift cards, gift wrapping, and returns.
Retailers are also using curbside kiosks and pop-up locations to accommodate more customers amid social distancing, showcase featured products, fulfill additional curbside or buy-online/pick-up-in-store orders to maximize sales flow. This year, the funnel is all about fluidity of the sales experience as opposed to being high touch. It’s all about safety.
As we navigate the holiday season, we are here for you, Elmore County. ECEDA is your resource for helping our local businesses reopen safely and surely under Governor Ivey’s amended Safer At Home Order. Please continue to check back at our website for updated information, resources, guidelines, and more so that we can reach recovery together as a community.