2021 festive retail trends you should know, brought to you by Discover® Global Network
Despite mixed signals from consumers and some heady crosswinds for businesses, this year’s festive shopping season is likely to benefit from plenty of pent-up demand and a resilient global economy.
Thanks to government aid programmes and increased savings, shoppers have a little more money in their pocket and, after nearly two years of isolation, are keen to spend time together and enjoy the festive break as much as possible.
To make sure 2021 finishes on as high a note as possible, here are six festive trends retailers should know:
1. Omnichannel dominates the market
Many consumers are planning to do their festive shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, but online and mobile continue to rise in popularity.
In addition, with greater ecommerce sales and consumers’ growing expectation of two-day delivery (plus free and easy returns), there is a greater need for creative fulfilment options.
As a result, so called “dark stores”— retail facilities that fulfil online orders and are not open to the public—are springing up in various countries to help fulfil orders more efficiently.
The use of dark stores allow retailers to optimise their physical store’s square footage, inventory, labour and geographic proximity in local markets and get orders to customers fast.
2. Pandemic-led payment trends continue
Contactless payments in-store, and buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) continue to be more popular than ever because of the improved customer experience they offer.
The US National Retail Federation, for example, found that BOPIS improved the customer experience with nine out of 10 shoppers prioritising convenience when choosing a retailer.
3. Buy Now, Pay Later is here to stay
The economic impact of the pandemic has led many shoppers to seek more manageable and predictable payment schedules.
As a result, Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) instalment loans with set monthly repayments have become increasingly popular.
Customer satisfaction with BNPL is high. According to research by the Mercator Advisory Group, 61 percent of those who have used the payment method reporting they are satisfied or very satisfied.
Research by the same group, suggests the U.S. volume of BNPL is projected to surpass the $100 billion mark annually by 2024, from $55 billion in 2021.
4. Festive shopping keeps moving the calendar
Just like 2020, consumers are shopping earlier this year — a smart move given the ecommerce boom and potential delivery delays.
The real beginning of the festive shopping season seems to have shifted to early October—and 25 percent of shoppers, surveyed by Mercator, said they had started or planned to start their festive shopping as early as September.
As a result, retailers that started battling early for consumers’ attention with creative marketing assets gave themselves a head start. As part of this trend, more businesses have jumped on the early discount bandwagon, and consumers are getting their shopping done as soon as possible with hopes of beating the crowds and shipping delays common to the festive season.
5. Promoting gift cards to smooth supply chain disruptions
Even if consumers decide to open their wallets and splurge, many businesses are confronting unusual product delays and the prospect of empty shelves.
Hit by supply chain disruptions and a shortage of computer chips that is delaying other products—as well as higher prices in the face of these shortages—businesses owners will need to balance customer expectations with these constraints.
As a result, retailers need to pay special attention to their customer communication, telling them when to expect their items, and quickly notifying them of delays. In many cases, retailers should also consider promoting the benefits of gift cards for purchases later when products are available.
6. Staffing shortages continue
Many retailers say their biggest workforce management challenge this year will be matching labour schedules to in-store customer demand.
With the retail and hospitality sectors reporting millions of unfilled jobs, these sectors - in particular - are struggling to find the help they need to provide both in-store and back-office service to customers.
In many cases, higher wages are offered to entice new workers, but money isn’t everything. To attract and retain staff this year, retailers must take a page from their customer marketing playbook
and focus on the employee experience: by taking the time to find out what their staff really care about, such as safety, flexible scheduling and quality of life—in addition to compensation.
Content accredited to Discover® Global Network.