According to the National Retail Federation (NRF) earlier this year, retail sales were expected to increase in 2022 to $4.95 trillion. NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said, “We should see durable growth this year given consumer confidence to continue this expansion, notwithstanding risks related to inflation, COVID-19, and geopolitical threats.” An NRF survey of consumers in September indicated that 62% of holiday shoppers thought “that it is important to spend on holiday gifts and celebrations”, even if it meant cutting back the budget in other areas, so loved ones can celebrate like they always do. But a Prosper Insights & Analytics’ annual survey showed that “58% of holiday shoppers say that sales and promotions are more important to them when shopping for gifts and other holiday items this year.” Despite the optimism, the advanced 2022 holiday shopping forecast by the usual expert prognosticators is a bit elusive this year due to rising inflation and overall economic uncertainty.
As Black Friday, the established start of the holiday shopping season, quickly approaches, both online and brick and mortar retailers are ramping-up marketing and advertising campaigns to capture a share of the holiday shopping bonanza. While the advance of ecommerce’s share of retail sales has been slowing since the passing of the Pandemic, “non-store and online sales year-over-year, which are included in the total figure, are expected to grow between 11 percent and 13 percent to a range of $1.17 trillion to $1.19 trillion as consumers continue to utilize ecommerce.” One shared consumer shopping trend this holiday season is becoming apparent.
According to NRF’s latest consumer survey, “forty-four% of holiday shoppers say it is better to purchase gifts and other seasonal items now because they believe inflation will continue to impact prices later in the year. Another 31% believe it is best to purchase items now because the deals will not get any better.” Many of the big brand retailers are responding to consumers’ sentiments and expediting opening holiday season salvos to just after Halloween. To remain relevant this year, it is imperative for all retailers to put the web-house in order and optimize consumers’ online experience.
In the online world, website speed is key to attracting and holding the attention of ecommerce customers. The ideal loading time for a website is zero to four seconds; after that users start to look to competitors for making purchases. Decorate your brand’s window to the world with holiday themes and update the process to make the online shopping experience as seamless and simple as possible. Pay extra attention to formatting product pages to ensure a quick and pleasant shopping experience and to encourage additional purchases.
This season, consumers are interested in value. Retailers can drive increased value by emphasizing quality over quantity and creating a message of price and convenience. Avoid overloading social media campaigns with Black Friday “only” promotions. Despite the early start, Holiday shopping remains a marathon with plenty of opportunities to promote different items throughout the calendar year. Include videos and images wherever possible. Add loyal customer testimonials to support the campaign’s pledges. Connect the online store with platforms like Instagram and Facebook and develop the ability to allow customers to buy directly from social media accounts. Create a sense of urgency to act and be sure to create content and emails that are relevant, authentic, and personal.
The holiday shopping opportunity is paramount for the survival and sustainability of America’s retailers. It is a time when most businesses cross the profitability line each year, and a dismal holiday selling season can often be the death nail to hundreds of businesses each January. Sitting back and waiting for customers to find you in a crowded and competitive marketplace will certainly produce disappointment. Successful brands need to capture the attention of users as they browse the web, engage lookers with authentic content as they research products online, and convert prospective buyers into purchasers.