Small Businesses: Get ready for the Holiday shopping season

Are you ready for the Holiday shopping season?  Your customers are ready to shop, and you need to be ready to meet their needs. 

Holiday shopping in 2021 promises to be different than it was pre-covid, and to some extent, it will be a different experience than in 2020.  These insights have been summarized from “The State of Smooth: 2021 Holidays Unwrapped,” published by Klarna. 

  1. Consumers are in the mood to spend.  2020 holiday sales exceed $188 billion, which was 32% more than was spend in 2019.  2021 sales are expected to be even higher.   
    • Projections are for holiday sales to grow by 9%. 
    • 50% of consumers plan to spend between $250 and $1,000 on gifts. 
    • 29% plan to spend in excess of $2,000. 
    • Early shoppers will spend 16% more than those who shop at the last minute. 
  2. Consumers are shopping earlier.  In fact, 25% of all shoppers have already started their shopping, and another 20% will start before Black Friday.  Nearly everyone else will begin their shopping with Black Friday or Cyber Monday. 
    • Consumers’ concern about shortages and supply chain challenges are motivating many people to shop early. 
    • Many shoppers are looking for great deals before the shopping rush. 
    • Those who shop early have expressed the desire to be able to relax more during the holidays. 
  3. Physical gifts will be more popular than experiences.  This reverses a recent trend toward experiences.  Due to covid, many consumers are reluctant to spend money on experiences that may have to be canceled. 
    • Electronics, fashion, and footwear are expected to be the biggest sellers. 
    • Keepsakes and retro items are in hot demand for 2021. 
  4. Having multiple delivery channels is a MUST.  Consumers will continue to increase online spending due to the ease of shopping from home and having purchases delivered to their door. To compete, local shops need to offer delivery and pick up options. 
    • Curbside pick-up will be in demand.  Curbside pick-up provides the customer with the convenience and safety of shopping online, while still supporting their local shops. 
    • Offer fast and reliable delivery.  If possible, build shipping into sales price.  However, guaranteed delivery in time for the holidays will be more important than the price. 
  5. Entice customers into your shop. Although online shopping, big box stores, and department stores are expected to dominant, 30% of consumers plan to shop with local retailers.  These shoppers want to support business they can relate to and to have an experience 
    • Have a charitable mission. Promote charities that you care about in your store and advertise that a portion of sales will be donated to that charity. 
    • Offer eco-friendly gift wrap options. 
    • Encourage customers to live-stream their shopping experiences while in your store. 
  6. Use social media to capture the interests of your target audience.  Know your audience and what social media they frequent. 
    • Older consumers are on Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest.   
    • Younger shoppers are more likely to be on Instagram and Tik Tok. 

The University of Mary Washington Small Business Development Center (UMW SBDC) helps local businesses evaluate their business to determine effective strategies for growing and scaling their business. If you are a client, please contact your consultant to schedule an appointment. If you are not already a client, you may register for free, confidential business assistance by completing a Request for Consulting form on our website,