2020 brought a holiday shopping season, unlike anything we’ve seen before. Most businesses shut down from the pandemic, and shoppers stayed home and shopped on the web, resulting in a 32.2% growth in online sales compared to 2019.

This year, when we are all doing our best to navigate this new normal, online retailers also face unique challenges and uncertainties. With unsettled economic, supply chain shocks, and shifting consumer behavior, preparing online stores for holidays may feel particularly stressful.

To get your store in shape for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and beyond, we spend a lot of time and effort to prepare the 2021 Holiday Campaign Preparedness guide.

Following the first chapter of the comprehensive guide, you can gain valuable consumer insights and get your store ready for this most profitable time of the year.

Holiday Retail Forecasts and Predictions

As we approach important holiday shopping events like Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM), you may be wondering: What can you expect the holidays to look like? 

To help you answer this question, we‘ve put together data- and expert-backed insights on the 2021 holiday shopping season. The following trends and forecasts will point you in the right direction to capitalize this holiday season and boost your sales. 

BFCM will kick off earlier and last longer

BFCM will kick off earlier and last longer

Black Friday is most definitely not a single day, it‘s more like a shopping season. Last year, Black Friday deals started days and weeks in advance of the actual shopping day and continued on until a week after Cyber Monday. This trend is expected to continue in 2021 and beyond. 

Right from 4th Oct 2021, Amazon unveils Black Friday-worthy deals with jump-start holiday shopping. Many retailers are also encouraging shoppers to start their holiday shopping earlier than usual as the industry faces a litany of challenges, from supply chain shocks and shopping delays to a labor shortage. 

Also, economic uncertainty in 2021 will also drive shoppers to plan ahead financially for the holiday season. By offering early deals and likely a variety of ways to finance their purchases, you can show tactical support for consumers’ financial goals and acquire early-bird deal-seekers. 

Brand authenticity will heavily influence purchasing choices

Brand authenticity influence purchasing choices

During this holiday season, authenticity is one of the most important things customers will be looking for from brands. Buyers want to build relationships with brands that reflect their values and have a positive impact on society. 53% of conscious consumers surveyed are even willing to pay a premium for a shopping experience that lets them do good while completing their holiday shopping. 

In 2020, many brands expressed their marketing efforts with care, unity, and support for other themes, and 2021 should be no exception. As we enter a new normal life and begin celebrating holidays with loved ones, make sure you’re touching on the theme that matters to your target customers. 

Integrating social impact through all channels can create authentic and engaging brand experiences. In this way, customers will feel even more positive about their purchases and keep you top of mind this holiday season.

Multichannel retailing is critical for BFCM success

Multichannel retailing

Despite lockdowns and disruptions, there was the increased adoption and growth of multichannel retail. This trend is expected to continue during this holiday season. Buy online, pick-up in-store relieves customers from shipping costs, long delivery timelines, and returning items that don’t meet their expectations. 

Multiple communication channels are a critical part of the holiday shopping season strategy. Connecting with customers using the right channel, at the right time can drive website traffic and boost your sales. 

Power your Holiday Strategies with data

As you know, the holiday season, including BFCM, is the most beneficial and also busiest time for retailers. To successfully grab this year’s holiday pie, make sure you analyze your data, research your competitors to get the insights you need.

Audit your past campaign

When thinking about how to prepare your online store for the holiday shopping season, don’t forget to review your historical sales data. There are no two same businesses, so instead of relying on a one-size-fits-all strategy, you analyze your data to discover insights and get your store ready for holiday shopping. 

The crucial type of data you should review is your previous holiday sale numbers. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Which holidays are most beneficial for your business?
  • Which are successful campaigns?
  • Which did you do right in the holiday seasons prior to this one?

And remember, because some holiday campaigns fell flat does not mean that it is not worth trying again. By digging into holiday sales statistics, you can easily identify areas for improvement and set benchmarks for your business. 

Understand your store traffics

Another important piece of information that is often overlooked when it comes to creating holiday campaigns is your website traffic. Before you draw up meticulous plans, you should spend time on Google Analytics, getting to know where your visitors come from and what they do on your online store.

As soon as you get more insights into your website traffics and visitors’ behavior, you can inform your holiday campaign to boost your sales. 

Scope out the competition

Keeping an eye on your competitors can help you gather ideas for your own Black Friday Cyber Monday and holiday deals. Subscribing to their email list and studying the campaigns is the easiest way to keep tabs on your competitors. In addition, you can pay attention to your competitors on social media and set up Google Alerts to see which websites are talking about them.

However, please keep in mind that don’t be “too inspired”. Chasing after competitors isn’t always the best strategy. Instead, you need to find ways to stand out, define your unique selling point and satisfy the needs of your target customers. 

Holiday Calendar – Know the ones to be ready for

The fourth quarter of the year is packed with the holidays, some of them are obviously bigger than others. In this section, we‘ll name upcoming shopping dates that you should pay attention to. Let’s explore and decide which ones are important for your business and customers. So you can gear up for and ride the way in the holiday seasons. 

Halloween – 31st October

halloween holiday calendar

We kick off the holiday season with Halloween. It is a spooky October and you can already hear children knock, knock, trick-or-treating. Last year, customers spent around $8 billion on Halloween-related items, and this number is expected to reach an all-time high of $10.14 billion in 2021. 

As an online store owner, it is time for you to prepare your store to take advantage of this holiday and bring home the big bucks. Costumes, decorations, candy, and greeting cards are the top product categories that customers expect to spend more on. 

Also, you can leave a great impression on families, getting a kick start on their shopping, especially those with children. 

Singles’ Day – 11th November

single day holiday calendar

Singles’ Day, also known as Double 11, is an unofficial holiday that helps single people show their pride in being single. It originated in China and quickly became one of the biggest shopping days in the world. 

That’s no surprise that last year, Alibaba got $74 billion in sales on this day. It has grown in popularity around Europe as well. sales made during Singles’ Day in 2020 reached £1.2 million in Germany, £900,000 in France, and £500,000 in Italy. 

This festival day is a great opportunity for your online store to cater and celebrate single people with the products you sell, from food, drinks, fashion to self-care products.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday – 27th & 30th November

BFCM is the biggest shopping event in the world. This day sees a 663% increase in sales compared to an ordinary day. 

It is expected that e-commerce will play a bigger role in BFCM sales than ever before. To truly capitalize on this opportunity, you need to give holiday buyers exactly what they want: a convenient and hassle-free shopping experience. And in return, you can increase your reach, build customer relationships, and see sales soar!

Christmas and New Year – 25th & 31st December

Christmas and New Year holiday calendar

If BFCM is the FOMO-fueled holiday rush, Christmas is a slow symphony of shopping. It starts as early as before reaching a crescendo over the last couple of days in December. 

While Christmas Eve is the true last chance for Christmas shopping. 51% of Americans tend to wait until the last minute to do their shopping. In other words, this is another chance to serve last-minute shoppers. However, you need to make sure your inventory can handle it. 

Similarly, New Year’s Eve is the day when many people make their last-minute purchases for outfits, food, drinks, and party supplies. Also, many people want to take advantage of the final holiday discounts.

Due to the cold weather, more people are willing to shop from indoors. So even if you don’t expect significant foot traffic on this day as people get ready for the night, it is worth investing in online orders and promotions on New Year’s Eve. 

As you can see, nearly every week in November and December has a holiday that online stores can participate in. Retail holidays are more than just Black Friday deals. There are dozens of holiday shopping events, you can prepare for and participate in to serve your current and future customers.

When should you start preparing for the holiday shopping season?

If Black Friday 2021 is going to look different compared to previous years, what is it going to look like? When will holiday sales start this year?

In reality, many sales have already started. As we mentioned earlier, holiday sales are expected to take a more seasonal approach rather than a single Black Friday offering. So, many retailers are planning to spread sales over the holidays. 

Take a look at Google Trends, for example. You can see a rising trend for “Black Friday sales” throughout the month of October 2021. As such, merchants are taking advantage and implementing holiday campaigns to boost sales. 

holiday shopping season trend

According to Businesswire, 75% of shoppers expect to start earlier than they normally would. The top reasons for starting earlier this year are ensuring product availability, taking advantage of early deals, and having products delivered on time. That is a good reminder of why you should plan ahead and start preparing for the holiday season early. 

Stay notified with our Holiday Campaign Preparedness Guide

The holidays are around the corner. Whether you’re preparing for BFCM, Christmas, or New Year, each week, we will help you with tools, best practices, and strategies to reach more customers, drive conversions and boost your holiday sales. 

In the next chapter, we will guide you on how to optimize your store design for holiday seasons step-by-step. Keep updated with us! 

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