Early shopping trends and consumer behaviours for the 2021 holiday season

It takes a lot of time for retailers to get ready, strategize, plan and finally execute for the holiday season. It is observed that this year’s holiday season is already in full swing and has started quite early. According to research from Google and Ipsos, 39% of Canadians say that they have already started shopping for the holiday season.

Due to COVID-19, digital spending in 2020 was the biggest ever holiday spending online, and it has shifted the retail landscape to a greater extent. The global pandemic caused various challenges that resulted in delivery delays, scarcity of products, and condensed supply, but on the other hand, things seem to get better and people are also looking forward and excited to spend the upcoming holiday season with family and friends this year. It’s indeed a silver lining after the prolonged distress people were going through.

Given the roaring success of digital buying and spending in 2020, now we are again headed towards the busiest time of the year. To help businesses successfully navigate the 2021 holiday season, here we present the metaphorical crystal ball showcasing the early trends and consumer behaviour.

The following Article was originally written by Sarah Bradley, Consumer Insights Manager Google and posted on Think With Google

Calendar inside circle graph: 20% of Canadian consumers started their holiday shopping in June.

While we have seen the start of the holiday shopping season creep forward over the last few years, in 2021, the festive season was on people’s minds even earlier than before. As of June, 20% of Canadian consumers had already started their holiday shopping.2 And 44% of Canadian consumers who are planning to shop for the holidays say they will start their shopping earlier than they did last year.3

“Each year, we see Canadians start their holiday shopping earlier and earlier,” says Swathi Sadagopan, strategic insights lead, retail at Google Canada. “Cyber week has turned to Cyber month, and is likely to be a Cyber quarter.

“We are seeing elevated levels of search interest for several known items like jackets as well as never-before-seen items like shackets. And many retailers are responding by starting their deals early, too.”

People preparing earlier for the holiday season is likely a response to their experiences last year, when traditional holiday shopping became challenging due to the pandemic. This year they’re excited to see their friends and family again, and want to get ahead of any potential disruptions.

Expected scarcity due to supply-chain challenges

Shopping bags inside circle graph: 49% of Canadian consumers expect COVID-19 to impact how they shop this holiday season.

The pandemic continues to disrupt people’s lives and their shopping behaviours, with 49% of consumers in Canada saying they expect COVID-19 to impact how they shop during the holidays.4 Some of these effects are smaller and more commonplace these days, such as wearing a mask and planning store visits in advance. Others will have a greater impact, requiring shoppers to look for new retailers and gift options if they’re unable to purchase specific items due to shortages.

Pandemic-related supply-chain challenges are already causing delivery delays and stock shortages for the holiday season. This has worried many holiday shoppers, with 67% of Canadian consumers saying they will confirm online that an item is in stock before going to buy it.5

“People are aware of the supply-chain challenges expected this season and are more open than ever to trying new brands to get what they need. As a result, they are turning to Google Search to help them navigate this season to find which retailer can deliver for their gifting needs, whether they want to purchase online or in-store,” says Kevin Fried, industry director, retail at Google.

“If expected shortages hold true this session, we’re likely to see the current trend of people searching for product availability accelerate even more.”

More support for local, small businesses

Wrapped gifts inside circle graph: 64% of Canadian holiday shoppers say they will shop more at local small businesses.

Another way the pandemic has changed consumer mindsets and behaviours is by making people more conscious about who they buy from. Smaller businesses have had a trying time during the pandemic, and campaigns such as “buy local or bye local” have popped up around the world in response.

This is a topic that has become more front of mind for people, as 64% of Canadian holiday shoppers say they will shop more at local small businesses.6

Tools like free listings and Business Profile can help businesses promote their products and stand out to local shoppers, ensuring people see up-to-date information, like accurate business hours, in-store services, and safety measures across Google. For small businesses in Ontario and Alberta that are not yet online, ShopHERE powered by Google provides free support on building, launching, and managing an online store. And Grow My Store provides customized recommendations to help businesses optimize their websites, increasing the likelihood of converting a website visitor into a customer.

There is still a lot of uncertainty about the upcoming holiday shopping season, from potential delivery delays and stock shortages to concerns about whether new restrictions might be introduced. This makes it more important than ever for retailers to provide a frictionless and clear experience throughout the purchasing journey, so customers know what to expect.

And given that the holiday shopping season is already underway, it’s important that retailers provide this now. For more ways to be there for holiday shoppers, check out our latest guide for retailers and brands.

Sarah Bradley

Consumer Insights Manager

Article Source: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-ca/consumer-insights/consumer-trends/festive-season-retail-holiday-shopping/


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