Consumer Behavior Trends Defining the 2020 Holiday Season

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As Retailers are Preparing for the 2020 Holiday Shopping Season it is Important to be Aware of the Trend Changes in Consumer Behavior as a Result of the COVID-19 Pandemic

For months now, customers have been navigating a “new normal” of store closures, increased online ordering, protracted shipping times and product shortages alongside the major disruptions to their professional and personal lives and, in some cases, their health and that of their families.

Expect customer stress and anxiety to bleed over into the holiday season, as adaptive consumer behavior that has developed since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic defines how customers approach holiday shopping this year.

Here are some of the key changes you should be planning for:

Shoppers Are Choosing Products Over Experiences and Practical Items Over Trinkets

For a number of years, American gift-giving has been trending toward experiences over products, especially when it comes to Millennial givers and recipients. The pandemic has stopped this trend in its tracks, with social distancing putting a crimp in plans for face-to-face activities.

Out are concert tickets, cooking classes or spa gift certificates. In are electronics, toys and home decor items. And just like most of us are narrowing our social circles in the current climate, the effort of acquiring and delivering presents and the downturn in holiday travel will mean that many Americans will be pruning their gift lists as well.

Shoppers will be buying fewer gifts, but investing in higher-quality, useful items (socks for all!) for their nearest and dearest.

Stocking stuffers, gag gifts and last-minute impulse buys will be the first to go this year.

Your Customers are Spending Less and Saving More

As a hedge against economic and pandemic unpredictability, Americans have cut their spending and increased their savings rate this year.

Survey research indicates a majority of consumers will continue to keep their extra money in their pockets until a viable coronavirus vaccine has been released.

For retailers, this means fewer shoppers are likely to have their heads turned by “irresistible” deals or guilty pleasure purchases this holiday season. Retailers need to create a strong emotional pull with consumers, reducing friction and risk around purchases (and returns) in order to maintain or gain wallet-share this year.

Consumers are Prioritizing Safety and Minimizing Risk

Black Friday has always driven a certain segment of the population to throw caution to the wind in the pursuit of a hot deal. We’ve all seen the viral footage of crowds of shoppers jostling each other to squeeze through the store doors as they open or what happens when tempers flare over the last big-screen TV.

There will be none of that this year, even if retailers try to operate as if it’s business as usual, save for hand sanitizer stations and spaced-out checkout lines.

We’re seeing this already with movie theatres; they reopened with precautions, but movie-goers chose to prioritize their personal safety and have largely stayed away.

Expect shoppers to do likewise this holiday season, choosing to reduce their potential COVID-19 exposure through choices such as cutting back on their number of shopping trips, shopping exclusively online or opting for Buy Online, Pick Up In Store (BOPIS) or Buy Online, Ship To Store (BOSS) options.

Research from Google finds that the 53% of consumers say they’ll be opting to shop with retailers that offer contact-less buying options this season.

If you are interested in learning more about CX Automation and specifically, how you can quickly implement an easy to use conversational AI experience as part of your CX strategy, tailored to your brand, schedule a call today.

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