How Retailers and Marketers Can Win the 2021 Holidays
Insights, Predictions, and Big Bets for the
2021 Holiday Retail Season
Authored By: Melissa Tatoris, Vice President of Retail
Monica Daniels, Content Marketing Writer
The Holiday Season Is Approaching—Is Your Brand Ready?
Retail and ecommerce sales will reach between $1.1 trillion and $1.3 trillion1 this holiday season (and $800 billion between November and December alone) as consumers look forward to normal, in-person celebrations following the COVID-fueled chaos of the 2020 holidays. Already, 41% of retailers believe this holiday season will make or break their business' year—yet only 21% of retailers feel prepared2.
To make the most of this abundant spending, brands must continue adapting to the COVID-shaped behaviors of consumers, such as pre-Halloween holiday shopping.
Filled with insights, predictions, and big bets for everything from Black Friday to Christmas, Zeta's 2021 Holiday Retail Planning Guide will give you a competitive advantage heading into the most important season for retail marketers.
Recapping a Wild 2020 by the Numbers
The 2020 holiday retail season went better than expected, despite looming concerns related to the pandemic. Both brick-and-mortar and online retailers saw their sales increase from 2019, thanks to intense fiscal stimulus from the federal government and burgeoning household savings3:
total retail spending (up 6.5% from 2019)
brick-and-mortar sales (up 2.2% from 2019)
The Attention-Grabbing Retailers
Most popular for brick-and-mortar:
Most popular for ecommerce:
Mark your calendar
When are consumers most likely to start shopping?
21% | 1 week or less before Christmas
9% | 1 to 2 weeks before Christmas
27% | 2 to 4 weeks before Christmas
21% | 4 to 8 weeks before Christmas
22% | 8+ weeks before Christmas
For decades holiday shopping didn't start until Black Friday. But these days, people are starting their shopping earlier and earlier in the year. Why, you ask? The growing ease of ecommerce, a disdain for long lines at crowded brick and mortars, and a willingness among retailers to break the mold by running big, holiday-themed sales as early as Halloween.
It Pays to be Popular
What product categories will see the highest increase in
online purchasing versus the 2020 holidays?
Stop the scroll
How do consumers plan to shop for the holidays in
In-Store Only 30%
Online only 25%
Blend of In-Storeand Online45%
Making the most
of the holiday
What will the average budget be this season?
$100 or less 33%
$100 to $500 29%
$500 to $1000 19%
$1000 or more 19%
1 to 3 people
4 to 7 people
More than 10 people
8 to 10 people
Naughty and nice
Shopping in a
Will mobile or desktop be more popular for holiday
Mobile holiday shopping soared to new heights last year due to the pandemic—more than 70% of consumers used a mobile device to make a purchase between Thanksgiving and the end of Cyber Week4.
That trend will continue in 2021—more than 80% of consumers will use a mobile device to make a holiday purchase this year.
Making a list, checking it twice
Will consumers continue to have shipping and
Consumers will be more conscious than ever with their buying decisions-in other words, holiday shopping will still be purpose-drive.
Consumers expect brands to increase their emphasis on...
Empathy and social Consciousness
Transparency and sustainability
How can you connect with the purpose-driven holiday shopper
Highlight sustainable products online and offline across a multitude of categories.
Provide little extras that people won't expect (such as a mini hand-sanitizer with every purchase) to show shopppers that you are truly committed to their safety.
Partner with local retailers to support your brand's products-use in-store pop-up events to highlight giftable goods and demonstrate your commitment to local businesses.
under the tree
How can retailers overcome first-mile-to-last-mile
challenges this holiday season?
Mailing letters to
the North Pole
Will consumers continue to have shipping and inventory
Hang a QR code
on the tree
What's the biggest change retailers can expect as in-store
How can retailers create a clear path to purchase?
Retailers must dissect each path to purchase to understand their workload (how many customers take each path) and profitability. Dive into the products and categories purchased in each path to also shape merchandise strategy for the holidays.
In what way will the economy impact holiday shopping?
The present no
one will return
What will remain a cornerstone of the 2021 holiday
marketing season for years to come?
How can brands better create an individualized customer experience?
Layer product tags into ecommerce sites to create more individualized experiences for each customer—show people the right product and the right creative to avoid cart abandonment and increase sales.
The four calling
birds of holiday
Live streaming is a great way to add topline dollars to the marketing mix. Live events held in storefronts, distribution centers or pop-up locations are ideal for showcasing merchandise and getting shoppers to move down the funnel. Use energetic associates, reputable influencers, or long-time customers to tell on-camera stories that add authenticity to live streaming sessions.
putting a bow on
the 2021 holiday