2020 Holiday shopping trends: here's what to expect

    Here are the key stats on online spending and digital trends to help you maximize your marketing budget during the holiday season.


    The holiday season is here and it’s time for marketers to take advantage of the business opportunities the busiest time of the year has to offer. Granted, this year has some uncertainty behind it, but there are still plenty of reasons to celebrate! We’ve scoured all our tips and curated the key trends and customer behavior insights to drive your digital marketing efforts through the season – there are many reasons to be optimistic this year!

    Holiday Season = Spending Season?

    Holiday retail in the U.S. grew 4.1% from 2018 to 2019, reaching around $730 billion. Despite the unpresented times we’ve collectively been going through, 2020’s spending forecast for the holiday season is looking up. Expect a rise in retail sales, undeterred by the 43% decrease in in-person sales.

    The predicted trends for this year include a lengthy holiday shopping season, where about 50% of consumers were said to start preparing for the holidays around the end of October. This means increasing brand awareness before December hits is instrumental to achieving businesses’ goals for the year. And while your holiday strategy should be ready by September, it’s never too late - there’s plenty you can still do until the end of the year. Retailers’ efforts of turning their physical stores into ecommerce businesses is going to be one of the most noticeable and attractive changes for consumers and the sales and marketing world this season.

    It seems as though holiday spending increases each year, and Adobe Digital Insights has forecasted that 2020 U.S holiday sales will reach a record high and increase by 33% this year. Furthermore, Adobe’s predictions state that online sales will also increase, resulting in $2 billion in sales per day between the 1st-21st of November, followed by a $1 billion increase between November 22nd and December 3rd.

    After last year’s record-breaking holiday shopping season, analysts are anticipating that retail in general will see yet another increase. Ecommerce sales growth during the holiday season is expected to accelerate and reach 18% (14.9% in 2019), according to eMarketer’s latest report.


    The buying patterns

    Although this pattern has been present and consistently increasing over the last few years, this year is said to surpass all past online spending rates. Online shopping is becoming more and more prominent and shoppers are not only buying online more frequently, but they are also more wary of their budgets while doing so. In other words, although purchases tend to be of a smaller value, the overall purchases and revenue are spiking upwards.

    BrightEdge suggested taking time to increase SEO efforts in order to capitalize on some of the biggest spending days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, saying that 60% of consumers have been shopping online since the pandemic, and that 73% of those consumers will continue to do so post-pandemic. Adobe is expecting a 35-40% increase in revenue from big discount days alone. Once again, this not only leaves an opportunity to polish your organization’s SEO tactics, but also its user experience (UX) to help guarantee a smooth supply and demand chain.

    The JLL report provided interesting insights to online shopping behavior of different groups. While the majority of women are especially eager to turn to social media (62%) and retailer emails (62%) for shopping inspiration, the majority of men surveyed tend to rely on word-of-mouth in deciding where and what they will buy this holiday season. Women also seem to prioritize low prices above any other factor while men value customer service and product experts more.

    When we look at demographics, it’s good news for non-traditional gift industries. Brands that don’t sell tangible products often struggle to participate in the season’s marketing. But it’s now known Millennials and Gen Z value experiential purchases over traditional material ones and are contributing to the growing number of shoppers who plan to gift experiences (27%) or host or attend events (24%).


    Higher conversion on desktop

    As mentioned previously, the events of this year have driven a large surge in online holiday shopping. Adobe confirmed that the first 10 days of the holiday shopping season in the U.S. brought $21.7 billion through online spending, a 21% increase from 2019.

    Mobile visit share is expected to continue to overtake desktop. With an increase of 17% from 2018 to 2019, we can expect another increase this year. Until a few years ago, mobile devices were used for browsing, whereas desktops were used for sale conversions. Ecommerce conversion rates have now increased by 64% compared to desktop rates. Today, mobile phones are more than just a tool for browsing, they’re facilitating commerce technology with increasingly better opportunities and UX. This year, ecommerce sales through mobile devices are expected to reach as high as 45% of the total online sales in the U.S.


    Irrespective of what the key digital marketing predictions foresee, the truth is that you probably already have the most important resource you need: the data you have collected in the past years. Trends are important to consider and you can easily get so involved with the holiday spirit that you overlook your most important asset: your customers. Actually looking at past campaigns and how well (or poorly) they performed with your targets is essential to design your future strategy and can even give you a competitive advantage against new competitors in your market segments who don’t possess this valuable insight.

    If you don’t have your holiday digital marketing plan set, jump on it this week! Leverage today’s data and mark the key dates so that you can time your marketing in order to maximize your budget and exposure during the most profitable time windows. Don’t forget to prioritize your marketing activities carefully to take advantage of the most wonderful time of the year – make sure it’s your brand that consumers find online, and not your competitors!

    Published on    Last updated on 11/12/2020

    #Digital Marketing, #SEO

    About the author

    Inês Pimentel is Senior Content Marketing Manager at Amplexor, based in Lisbon. With broad experience in marketing and communication in tech, service and non-profit contexts, Inês joined Amplexor marketing team in 2016. She's certified in Inbound, Email and Content Marketing.