Holiday Shopping: is it the Season of Joy Yet?4 min read

The State of Holiday Shopping During the Pandemic

The holiday shopping season is finally here. But is it actually ‘here’? 

That’s the million-dollar question on the minds of everyone looking to make it big this holiday season. 

We’re in the second holiday shopping season since the pandemic and retail pundits have once again claimed that it has not been restored to its full glory from the pre-pandemic times. This is because, just like everything else, shoppers’ behavior has been drastically impacted and changed during these couple of years and most of them have actually embraced that change.

Change in Holiday Shopping Behavior and Trends

Cyber Week, especially days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday saw higher in-store traffic compared to 2020 but not up to pre-pandemic levels. On the other hand, there was a small drop in e-commerce sales due to shoppers showing eagerness to visit stores. 

However, experts are suggesting that we won’t see a similar pattern for Christmas, given the sudden revelation of the new Omicron variant. According to a recent Deloitte report, 40% of the shoppers were still anxious about shopping in stores for Christmas and some are predicting that e-commerce will rise once again this year.

Holiday shopping sales are expected to grow to an all-time high of between $843.4 billion and $859 billion of sales in November and December, which represents growth of 8.5% to 10.5% this year, according to the National Retail Federation.

The lack of ability to shop in-store is just one part of the pandemic taking the fun away from holiday shopping. The other part is customers being forced to give up experience-based spendings such as travel, movie, or restaurants in return for product purchases. 

Not to forget that it can be even more frustrating when they are unable to receive the product in time.

The Supply Chain Disruption Has Been a Worry for Shoppers, Retailers, and Carriers Alike

With an unprecedented surge in online orders during the holiday shopping season, along with freight constraints, warehouse capacity issues, and insufficient workers, there is expected to be an immense strain on shipping carriers to ensure timely delivery of holiday orders.

Online retailers, as well as shoppers, should brace themselves for a holiday shopping season that will be troubled with package delays due to shipping network congestion, labor shortage, and COVID-19 outbreaks in some parts. Experts suggest that there will also be stock availability issues and obvious package delays. 

54% of shoppers reported an item they wanted to buy online was out of stock and 49% found that an item they bought experienced a delivery delay. – Forbes.

The Impact of the Supply Chain Disruption on Customer Loyalty

The verdict is clear.

Product availability and delivery performance will be the key differentiator for customers while choosing a brand to shop with this holiday shopping season. Therefore brands’ loyalty is in question as shoppers are more open to trying new brands and have started shopping for Christmas from November to get the holiday gifts they need without any delay

On the other hand, customers’ have also kept their expectations of a white-glove delivery service intentionally lower to avoid disappointments with their delivery. But that doesn’t mean businesses can afford to take the risk of not fulfilling their customers’ orders in terms of both keeping in stock and delivering on time. 

During times like the holiday shopping season, taking the extra step to fulfill customers’ orders, can definitely cement you as their favorite brand. Plus, not doing so is only going to turn out expensive for your business adding to the increased shipping costs due to the ongoing supply chain crisis.