Holiday shopping 2020: is it a good year or nightmare for marketers?

Researches & Insights
October 23, 2020 / Author: Elizabeth Boyarko

2020 has been anything but usual. The good news is that no one can cancel holidays or holiday shopping for brands and their consumers. Although the latter will become more personal, practical, and more competitive. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Here are some of the trends that will help marketers to better understand the specificity of the retail industry during the age of COVID-19.


Due to the pandemic and economic downturn customers are becoming more careful in the question of money. Consumers won’t stop spending money on gifts completely, but they are going to spend less and more cognizant in comparison with last year. It means that before the purchase people are more likely to make a research of what they buy and where and might not be brand loyal, especially if they see a competitor that offers more for less money. It is not only about the price competition but also about positioning. Customers are now looking for practical and valuable presents so marketers should take this into account in their messages.


Before this year, interest in holiday shopping was growing proportionally by the end of November, but this trend will change in 2020. 

Offline stores may not be open or may be open by holiday season, but offline shopping will still take place, especially for certain age groups and categories of goods that require personal touch. Although, it will still happen earlier this year to be prepared for a possible change in circumstances.

It’s a good opportunity for marketers to start interacting with their audience early and to participate in the consumers’ decision-making process from the very first.


During the lockdown caused by COVID-19, consumers bought all goods online. Research shows that more than 70% of people aren’t ready to get back to their pre-pandemic activities outside of their homes, therefore it is very important for marketers to connect with customers online. 

As previously noted, offline sales won’t go anywhere, but their number will be reduced, even if most stores return to the previous working schedule. Number of offline sales in 2020 decreased by 19% in comparison with 2019. That’s why marketers should take into account that this year their target audience will be more diverse. People who used to constantly buy gifts in stores are now most likely to shop online. Marketers will need to use more understandable messages and reach this audience on different devices. 

Source: eMarketer


As most consumers went online, shipping became a very important factor in shopping. We likely won’t see big crowds before annual shopping events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and holiday season as early. Online sales will make the idea of waiting in line for hours and fighting over dishwashers feels “old-fashioned and unnecessary”.

As a big number of consumers went online, delivery became a very important factor in shopping. It will influence client gift purchases and they are more likely to buy gifts with free shipping or big discounts. It may work in marketers favour when a consumer is thinking where to buy a similar product in your store or competitors.  


Apps will influence holiday shoppers across every stage of the funnel. Companies need to ensure their mobile strategies are in top shape because increasingly more people are searching and making purchases on their devices. Shopping app revenue in the US has grown by more than 50% since lockdowns started in mid-March, according to the AppsFlyer research. Marketers should focus on attracting new users to their apps, this market will likely become the most comfortable with apps and be on the lookout for others. Moreover it’s also a good time to bring users back. Re-targeting will bring back users who may have left the app, targeting the best possible audiences and providing them with special holiday offers. This will also increase customer loyalty.


Holiday season is a big opportunity to drive loyalty from new online shoppers and people who have previously interacted with the company.

Customers have different expectations from the holiday season now. The new normal demands an efficient, dependable experience that spans from ecommerce to in-store, and from product discovery through purchase and delivery. 

By providing comfortable customer journeys without any difficulties—from an easy-to-use website or/and app, to free shipping and easy returns—businesses can give their holiday customers what they truly want: holiday season that will bring only pleasure and leave a good impression about the brand. Next time a customer needs to buy a gift for the holidays, they will probably choose the same company as they did before. 

Time has changed so as customers behavior and expectations. But marketers can still make it the most wonderful time of the year. In this new reality, the main challenge facing all marketers is to understand how people make their holiday shopping now, and then use this knowledge in a campaign. If you are still wondering how to do this, read our article one more time or just contact us and we will help you with that.