2021 Holiday Shopping Recap: Season was Strong Despite Supply Chain Concerns

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If you read my blog posts, you know that I love shopping. The holiday season, November 1 to December 24, is my favorite time of year for shopping…the decorations, the music, and the sales. The 2020 holiday shopping season was disrupted due to COVID-19 restrictions and in-person shopping included social distancing, a facemask, and hand sanitizer. What would disrupt the 2021 holiday shopping season?

Would Supply Chain Issues Affect My Annual Shopping Trip?

Every year, my husband and I take a vacation day to shop for our daughters, now ages 16 and 12. Once again for this year’s annual holiday shopping trip, I was equipped with my daughters’ shopping lists, my direct mail and email ads and coupons, and also a bit of uneasiness that supply chain issues would hamper my ‘usually successful’ shopping tradition. But my in-store shopping experience was overall a success. When I needed a “shacket” for my daughter and her size was sold out in the retail location, Old Navy was able to order and ship it directly to my home. Half of my purchases were made online this season, and all my daughters’ gifts arrived on time.

How Did Retailers and Holiday Shoppers Deal with Supply Chain Issues?

To prepare and ensure holiday shoppers received their gifts on time, retailers ordered merchandise early, and delivery companies ramped up hiring to handle the influx of packages. Nearly all packages delivered this year by the Postal Service, UPS, and FedEx arrived on time or with minimal delays.

With consumers recognizing the impact on product availability, many completed their shopping early this year. In an announcement on its Mastercard SpendingPulse report, senior adviser for Mastercard Steve Sadove said, “Shoppers were eager to secure their gifts ahead of the retail rush, with conversations surrounding supply chain issues sending consumers online and to stores in droves.”

How did Retailers do This Holiday Shopping Season?

According to The New York Times, retailers did pretty well this holiday shopping season:

  • 2021 holiday sales increased 11% compared with the pre-pandemic 2019 holiday season, an 8.5% increase compared with 2020.
  • Black Friday weekend sales increased 14% compared with 2020.
  • The final two weeks of the 2021 holiday shopping season comprised 23% of retailers’ holiday sales, up 11% compared with 2020.
  • Online holiday sales increased 9% in 2021 compared with 2020.
  • Online holiday sales were 20.9% of all 2021 retail sales compared with 14.6% in 2019.

What Can Retailers do to Prepare for the 2022 Holiday Shopping Season?

  • Incorporate digital shopping experiences for consumers. In 2021, purchasing options like buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) helped retailers increase holiday sales nearly twice as fast as their non-BOPIS peers. In fact, 60 percent of digital orders will tie back to brick-and-mortar retail locations.
  • Understand customers across all touchpoints and deliver their preferred experiences. Consumers saw a 39 percent increase in personalized messaging sent by retailers during the final two weeks of the 2021 holiday shopping season.
  • Embrace a new retail model. Digital storefronts and physical locations coexist, stores never close, and shoppers are able to purchase 24/7.

Given the continuation of supply chain issues, it is not too early to begin your 2022 holiday season marketing plan. Our marketing experts can help. So call us today!

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