This Year’s Early Start to Holiday Shopping Explained

By mloudenliveclicker-com | October 28, 2021
early start to holiday shopping

The retail industry — and every one of your shoppers — have a lot of headaches to deal with where holiday shopping is concerned this year. Between product shortages, delivery delays, and ongoing social distancing and safe shopping restrictions, a large percentage of consumers will begin scratching items off their holiday shopping list before the end of October.

And considering roughly one-in-four consumers plan to spend even more on holiday gifts this year than they did in 2020, this means a huge boost in the bottom line for any brand who kicks off holiday campaigns and promotions before Halloween. Especially if your audience is likely to be influenced by social media and how you address social issues and values.

So, where will your shoppers look first for products? And how might this year’s extra early start to holiday shopping impact your ecommerce efforts?

Your customers don’t wait to wait for this year’s deals

If you’re a little uncomfortable by the idea of kicking off your holiday campaigns before leaves even hit the ground, you’re not the only one. In fact, many researchers point to “Christmas Creep” as a negative. That said, this year’s retail consumers aren’t waiting for Black Friday or Cyber Monday to score deals on the products they’re looking for.

early start to holiday shopping

So, give them a sneak peek of your hottest holiday sellers now. Specially segmented lists and promotions, as well as personalized gift guides, are a helpful tool millions of shoppers use to plan their purchases over the next few months. And a valuable gift you can give today that they’ll be sure to return the favor for — even if it’s weeks down the line.

early start to holiday shopping

Build your email experience around social media, mobile-first experiences, and user-generated content to make the most of this year’s early start to holiday shopping

As you can imagine, consumers who’ve already started their holiday shopping are primarily browsing products, deals, and discounts online. And outside of major purchases like fitness equipment, cars, and high-end electronics, you can expect several gift-related categories to sell out without anyone setting foot in-store.

But this shop-from-anywhere trend isn’t something that will only last for the first few weeks. In fact, roughly twice as many shoppers will complete their transactions online versus in-store in 2021. And they’ll lean on their favorite social media influencers, friends, and other like-minded shoppers for every bit of advice before opening their digital wallet.

Unlike traditional ecommerce sites like Amazon and Walmart.com, social media platforms and mobile-first shopping platforms allow shoppers to easily search through brands, audience engagement posts, real-time product reviews, and even immersive content like live product demos and short video displays.

early start to holiday shopping

Given that 60% of pre-Halloween holiday shoppers consider purchasing items recommended to them while shopping online, much of this year’s success could be influenced by whether or not you decide to extend your campaign to additional channels like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.

Brand activism is a big deal this year

For an increasing number of early holiday shoppers, the quality of your products, personalization, or messaging ultimately doesn’t matter—and therefore won’t convince them to make a purchase. But the values and causes your brand stands for do.

According to our Retail Personalization Index Consumer Survey research, more than 60% of retail consumers will only shop with brands that share their personal values going forward. Furthermore:

  • 30% of early holiday shoppers say brand activism has impacted their impression of a brand already
  • 19% say brand activism has also impacted their buying behavior

So, whether you choose more eco-friendly shipping and manufacturing practices, local sourcing, or fair treatment of employees, make sure you stand for something this holiday season. After all, the data says this will make a significant portion of your audience even more inclined to buy. With today’s atmosphere, consumers are more likely than ever to throw their financial support behind retail brands who champion important causes. So give them every reason to support you!

How the early start to holiday shopping impacts ecommerce everywhere

Plentiful stock, minimal crowds, and peace of mind are just a few of the reasons your shoppers are starting their holiday search earlier than ever this year. Unfortunately for unprepared retailers, this peak shopping period is likely to exacerbate existing inventory shortages that these companies have been grappling with for months.

early start to holiday shopping

Early start to holiday shopping may still mean shipping delays

It’s no secret that global supply chains are struggling to keep up with the massive demand online shopping creates. And with more promises for fast and free shipping than any other season, early holiday shoppers expect convenient, reliable, and on-time product deliveries—even if that’s not exactly realistic this year.

While starting their gift shopping early may very well help some of your customers avoid the last-minute shipping stress, the reality is these issues are unavoidable and likely to only get worse as the year goes on. So, make sure you have a plan (and some templated messaging) ready to send whenever you have to break the bad news to one of your subscribers.

Prepare your promotions for long-term results

The holiday season seems to happen earlier and earlier every year. So, retailers are following suit by starting their promotions sooner—and preparing them to run for months, not weeks. For brands depending on Black Friday or Cyber Monday for that massive post-Thanksgiving revenue boost, this could mean some potentially bad news as shoppers rely less and less on these deals.

More shoppers will stay local

Considering the overwhelming support and interest holiday shoppers have in supporting small businesses, don’t be surprised if more of your shoppers complete their purchases locally at their favorite stores this year. Especially if you offer convenient fulfillment options like curbside pickup and Buy Online, Pickup In-Store (BOPIS) to bridge the gap between online and in-store experiences.

Your early holiday shoppers have considerable obstacles to navigate this year thanks to continued social distancing efforts, product shortages, and delivery delays. But by encouraging smaller purchase peaks (as well as initial buys before Halloween and the traditional holiday season starts), you can help them find the products and deals they desire to inspire long-term loyalty.

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