2020 has been an interesting year for merchants, to say the least. Business owners had to adapt their operations to ensure their survival and provide a safe shopping experience for customers as the retail landscape changes rapidly. A number of new trends have emerged as a result, both for merchants and consumers.
While this year has seen many “firsts,” however, some things remain the same. The holiday season continues to be one of the biggest revenue-generating opportunities of the year, though spending is occurring in different channels than in years past.
Overall, offering flexible options such as online shopping and gift card options can go a long way in helping you—and your customers—conquer the holiday season. Here are some more tips for how merchants can use this year’s emerging retail trends to plan for a successful (and safe) holiday season.
More online shopping than ever
Early this year, many stores were forced to close the doors to their physical locations due to COVID-19. And while most are up and running again, many consumers still favour online shopping over going in-store, both for safety and convenience.
This trend has been growing for some time, however. In a recent study we conducted, 70%1 of Canadian shoppers reported planning to make their holiday purchases online. This trend points to an increase in online solutions like electronic gift cards (eGift), which allows delivery through text or email and allows users to store eGift cards in their Apple Wallet.
Supporting contactless, flexible gifting options for your customers can help them get their holiday shopping done without leaving their living room—and you don’t have to do much to set it up, either. eGift comes as a complete package solution that combines a flexible shopping cart with Moneris Checkout so you can integrate it quickly and easily with your website. However, if you don’t have a website and want to set up one up quickly, we can help you with that, too. Read about it here.
Everyone’s starting early this year
Not only are more shoppers turning to online solutions, but they’re also getting it out of the way earlier in the year, with 16%1 of respondents we polled saying they would start holiday shopping early this year.
Canadians under 35 years of age are also reporting that they’re more likely to do more of their holiday shopping online this year, taking advantage of Black Friday sales and shopping earlier in the event of a second wave of COVID-19 infections1.
28% of respondents also reported an intent to purchase more gift cards than usual this holiday season, favouring a more flexible gift option that can be used anytime1.
It’s safe to say that in the face of uncertainty, shoppers and merchants alike are being proactive about planning.
Price and quality are key factors
More than ever before, shoppers this season are concerned with price and quality. This year, 47%1 of survey respondents reported planning to shop more around sales moments like Black Friday and Cyber Monday to save money. With many people struggling financially this year, holiday shoppers are proving to be more frugal. Considering more people, in general, are concerned with stretching their dollars, gift cards are continuing to grow in popularity to ease cash flow for gift recipients.
This gift option is also a great way to pre-empt the expected boom in online Boxing Day shopping this year. In a survey2 conducted by Rakuten.ca, there was a five-point increase in customers planning to shop online for Boxing Day this year, hoping to take advantage of lower prices.
Restaurant trends: Gift cards are growing in popularity
Restaurants were among the hardest-hit businesses this year, with most having to shut down their indoor dining service. Consumers rallied behind their favourite establishments, however, with many purchasing gift cards they intended to use once the restaurants’ operations were up and running again.
With a recent Givex survey showing restaurants are taking the top spot for gift card purchases–this trend is extending into gifting season. In fact, 32% of Canadians are choosing restaurants as their gift card of choice, followed closely by coffee shops at 21%. With many restaurants and cafes now offering delivery, pickup, and storefront options, it’s important to offer both physical gift cards and eGifts, with recipients having more flexibility with how they use them.
Small business demand is booming
Finally, this year has prompted many consumers to shop local, favouring their neighbourhood shops over national or chain retailers. In a Google-commissioned tracker, 66%3 of consumers reported planning to shop at local small businesses this holiday season.
With demand growing, small businesses need to be prepared. That means proper staffing, planning for more inventory, ensuring flexible payment options, and gift card options to make the experience as smooth as possible for consumers.
Proper planning is key for 2020
One thing is clear from the year’s spending trends: Being prepared is your best bet. This year has shown us that the retail environment can be volatile and unpredictable, but building flexible options into your business solution will go a long way in helping your business stay on top of things over the holidays.
The information in this article is provided solely for informational purposes and is not intended to be legal, business or other professional advice or an endorsement of any of the websites or services listed.
1An online study conducted by Leger on behalf of Moneris surveyed over 1,500 Canadians between September 25 – 27, 2020.
3(Google commissioned Ipsos COVID-19 Tracker, US consumers who plan to shop for this season 18+ June 11-16)