How COVID Will Affect Holiday Shopping This Year

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The Effects of Covid on Holiday Shopping

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly affected the social and business world. But another world that is also clearly affected by it is the retail industry. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, the shopping experience significantly changed. Some supply chains have shut down, while others are adapting to the situation. 

With the 2020 holiday season approaching fast, holiday shoppers have to make a plan on not only what to purchase but when and how to do it. Planning when to shop is now more important than ever. We are not sure what the near future will hold in terms of department store restrictions and time limits. However, we can attempt to predict the possible ways the COVID pandemic will affect holiday shopping. 

Less Spending

Gift shopping for loved ones can empty people’s wallets quickly. However, that may not be the case this year. With COVID lurking everywhere, people may want to limit their time in physical stores and only going when there is a good sale going on. There is also speculation that a lot of people will start earlier to avoid crowds. The thing is that about three in ten people have expressed their desire to hit the shops a lot earlier, saving time and money.  

Another aspect of why people may be spending less money is that their gatherings could be smaller or that there would be fewer Christmas parties to attend. Besides spending money, people will be spending less time in the stores as well. 

Physical Store Behavior

Physical store shopping may decrease during the holiday season. Some stores may even opt to shut down or severely limit their working hours to avoid the surge of crowds that happen every year around Christmas. That is especially important due to all the last-minute shoppers coming in to grab what gifts they can. 

Closing down as well as limiting the working hours will result in consumers spending less money and time during the period closer to holidays. That is logical. However, there’s some good news. Some have even begun shopping before the allure of Black Friday to avoid the crowds.

Some stores have taken note of this trend and started their Christmas decoration a lot earlier. Places like Home Depot and Best Buy have started having sales on their products like toolkits and other electronics a week before Thanksgiving. That could have been done to attract the customers soon, as well as to avoid the last-minute logistical nightmares that they may have experienced the years prior. 

Another possible course of action would be to limit the number of people in the stores. You may expect a security guard to control the flow of customers so that the stores are not crowded. That can also result in waiting lines for people who want to get into the shops. 

People’s Possible Behavior

With the change in the store working hours, the number of people in them at a time could bring about another inevitable change. That is the customers’ behavior, of course. 

A few news sites have speculated that Black Friday will be a thing of the past. That had been theorized even before COVID-19 made the news, but it may be becoming truer sooner than we think. The reason for that could be that people are more cautious when they go out. 

They could also plan their timing better to go out earlier as a way to avoid any crowds. Morning shopping could become a thing. Many people like to sleep in, but the early hours could be the “prime time” to get to the stores while others are snoozing. But, as mentioned, some folks have already started their holiday shopping now, so the best thing would be to get on that trend and not fit all the shopping in one day.  

Also, shoppers could wear masks in the future and simply avoid crowded stores. This is all merely a speculation, but it would make sense. Social distancing is difficult to do in close space and even harder with so many people around. That could be why, if a shop looks as if it has a bit too many people, the new customers will just turn around and go elsewhere. It may be a good idea to find those small “ma and pa” places to get the gifts you would like to buy. If they are still open, that is. 

Some people may also consider limiting their shopping to one store. That can be a way to have less exposure to the virus. You can always stay home and make something with your own hands! Speaking of staying at home…   

Online Shopping

An aspect of holiday shopping that will most likely spike up is online shopping. Many businesses are expecting online orders to be at a peak for the Christmas season. With many people opting to stay home due to the virus and the cold weather said to heighten the impact of the virus, online shopping would be the safest bet.  

Retailers, if they haven’t already, are going to be updating their online stores and apps to handle the demands of digital shoppers. Businesses such as Gap, for example, have started upgrading their warehouses and call centers.

Target, Best Buy, and others like them are pushing for curbside pickups. That would be a way for online orders to be retrieved by their customers quickly and safely. It is also predicted to save these retail stores money that would have gone to shipping and extra packaging. The plan for more and more stores going the online route is how to get their product to the customers in a cost-efficient way, after all.  

You might want to see these tips in avoiding scams while doing your online shopping.

Shipping 

However, with the predicted surge in online shopping for Christmas, there is another area that retailers should be worried about — shipping. There is a good chance that an influx of online orders may cause a bottleneck effect regarding shipping, which could lead to items becoming delayed due to the overflow of the delivery process.  

It is to be expected that delivery companies such as UPS, DHL, and FedEx will have their global capacity exceeded by about 5 percent before December 26 this year. That could, potentially, mean that about 700 million items may not arrive at customers’ homes before Christmas.  

Stores such as Macy have taken note of these potential issues and are making plans to combat it. One of the ideas is that the lines of communication between the store and the consumers will be more open. However, there is also an idea of implementing a cutoff date for orders, namely December 15. It is rumored that stores that were able to deliver packages within 48 hours or less would not be able to do so this year due to the influx of online shopping carts they have to push through.  

That could be the main reason why some stores could opt to have a cutoff date for online orders. That is so that they have more time to get the gifts to the owners before Christmas morning. 

What People Buy

While there are still ways that you can go about getting the gifts, the age-old question of what to get is still present. Before the outbreak, many people have opted to travel around or go to sporting events. That may not be the case this year. Family gatherings could also be different in that some would rather do a Zoom call than attend a dinner. Consequently, that can mean that the gifts could get smaller.  

However, some analysts are saying that certain types of gifts might actually become more popular, such as: 

  • Comfortable clothes
  • Home fitness machines or equipment
  • Beauty products 
  • Desk accessories 
  • Small home decor items

The idea is that people will look for practical gifts (See these gifts for men and women in 2021)to help many people that are working remotely. We could also see a rise in demand for electronics, such as computer mice, software, table lamps, etc.  

There can still be the entertaining and fun side of gift-giving. People may want to consider gifting games through Steam or other such gaming platforms. Or gifting digital movies and TV shows! We are sure many people would not mind if someone pays for their Netflix account for a month as a Christmas gift. All of this is still practical but more away from the “work at home” side of Christmas shopping.  

The Wrap Up 

While holiday shopping will be different this year from the previous, it does not mean that one cannot still have the Christmas Spirit. Planning and starting early will help you get those gifts that you want to buy. 

Now that we have covered the effects of COVID on Christmas shopping we’d like to end it on a positive note and tell you to stay safe out there. Happy holidays!

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