The holiday season is a major strategic focus for retailers of all sizes, and this year is shaping up to be a significant force in retailers’ profits for 2019. As we approach the final few days before the holidays, there are several key trends that retailers and industry observers are watching in hopes of a successful end to the holiday season and the 4th quarter of the year.
Shortened shopping schedule is driving last-minute foot traffic
Because Thanksgiving was much later in November this year, 2019 will have fewer shopping days before Christmas than usual. Shoppers are feeling time pressure to get their holiday shopping done in time, especially with fewer weekend days available to go to the malls.
The good news for retailers: this tighter shopping schedule is also giving shoppers added incentive to hit the stores one last time and make quicker purchase decisions once they’re in the aisles. Look for ways to optimize your stores’ in-person experience for easy sales opportunities – with suggestive selling on every shelf!
Strong Black Friday is spurring momentum
Black Friday 2019 was a blockbuster. According to data from the National Retail Federation (NRF), a record number of shoppers, nearly 190 million, made purchases during the five-day weekend of Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday. These shoppers spent an average of $361.90 on holiday items during the Thanksgiving weekend, up 16% compared to 2018. These sales results are an encouraging sign for retailers; despite some concerns about a possible economic slowdown, the U.S. consumer economy appears to still be going strong.
Consumers are shopping online and in stores
The Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2019 data from the NRF also showed that today’s consumers are embracing online and in-store shopping. Black Friday was the busiest day for in-store shopping (84.2 million shoppers), but it was also the busiest day for online shopping (93.2 million shoppers), beating Cyber Monday by nearly 10 million shoppers. 75.7 million people shopped online and in brick-and-mortar stores during this big shopping weekend – showing that online sales and in-person sales can often be complementary of each other.
Retailers don’t have to choose between online and in-person shopping; consumers want both, and they want to do business with retailers that accommodate their needs with online purchases, real-life shopping, and all the ways the consumer experience overlaps between these channels.
For example, this year saw a 43% increase in BOPIS orders (buy online, pickup in store) from companies like Walmart and Target. Be prepared to get creative and adaptable about how to fulfill your customers’ orders and exceed their expectations.
The brick-and-mortar retail apocalypse is overrated
Despite the boom in online shopping and the demise of thousands of brick-and-mortar retail locations, it appears that in-store retail is still very much alive. A report from Fiserv, Inc. found that on Black Friday 2019, retail sales in brick and mortar stores went up by 4.2% over 2018.
In-store retail still matters. Lots of people still enjoy shopping in stores in the real world; another study shows that physical stores are still responsible for 90% of all retail sales in North America.
The holiday shopping season is shaping up to be a strong one for retailers. Look for ways to make the most of your last-minute holiday foot traffic. Keep integrating online and in-store shopping channels. And don’t underestimate the value of a real-world retail presence; consumers are not choosing between online shopping and in-store retail – they’re demanding a blend of both. Retailers who harness smart strategies and adapt to consumer expectations will reap the rewards.
Arnold Engel is the CEO and co-founder of Tundra, the online marketplace where wholesale happens. After experiencing firsthand the structural inefficiencies that small business owners face in the wholesale market, Arnold and his wife, Katie Engel, founded Tundra to allow independent businesses to freely transact, scale and thrive. Today, thousands of businesses buy with confidence on Tundra with lowest direct pricing and free shipping on over 100,000 wholesale products.