Holiday Season Retail in 2020

Holiday Season Retail in 2020
If you’ve been remotely online for the last few months, you’d have likely seen retailers like John Lewis crank out their usual high budget Christmas ads — with a twist. Some of the ads, like Disney’s, don’t acknowledge the 900 pound COVID19 elephant in the room. Others, like John Lewis’, try to encourage people to be kind. Amazon’s “The Show Must Go On” knocks it out of the park by illustrating how strange and quiet the holiday season needs to be this year with social distancing still in place across much of the world.
In Australia and in Victoria, life seems to be cautiously moving on into a COVID-normal. Ramping up to the holiday season, the city’s looked crowded as we walked through it on a weekend, and Australia’s economy has been showing signs of recovery: sales lifted up 14% in October compared to September as physical stores reopened. Cafes, restaurants, department stores, clothing, footwear, and personal accessories were the biggest benefactors of the sales jump.
November was another strong month for Victoria, though across the rest of the country, momentum could fall back. 40% of retailers still expect Christmas sales to exceed last year by 5%, while 24% expected it to decline by 5%. 44% expect more than 10% of their total sales to be online, the highest ever.
"Some have benefited from border closures and consumers spending more time at home, whereas others in the services, apparel and catered food market have borne the brunt of the downturn [...] The polarisation of the market means that there is not just one narrative around COVID-19, but many." -David White, National leader of Deloitte’s retail group.
City Councils have tried to pitch in, with initiatives running such as the City of Melbourne’s voucher program to try and drive spending in Queen Victoria Market. With people poised to spend more this Christmas with their lockdown savings or just wanting to do some retail therapy, here are some tips to making this holiday season one of your best ones yet.

Online, Online, Online

Even if your business doesn’t easily lend itself to an online presence, you’d be surprised how much a simple digital presence could help lend credibility to your brand and drive business to your store. If your business does work with online delivery, however? Get on that quick. There are several ways that you could easily set up your site for eCommerce — or create an online store with easy-to-use fronts like Shopify.
Selling on existing platforms like Amazon and Facebook Marketplace get trickier for brands, especially if you’re not used to navigating the demands and requirements of the platform. If you’re just starting off, we’d recommend the following:
  • eCommerce capability on your site
  • A responsive site to maximise your SEO
  • A social media presence, along with adspend if you can afford it
  • Decent photographs
  • Decent copy
  • Stand out from your competitors – offer something different, say something new
  • Understand your target market's purchasing choices and play towards that. Have an end goal in mind, or what we'll call a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) in the industry. Anything from a monthly sales growth target to a target average purchase value.
It’s competitive out there, so don’t get discouraged if your online store doesn’t take off instantly. Ideally, it’s just another way people might be able to pay you for what you’re offering, a seamless experience that’d tie in to any brick and mortar touchpoints that you have. The best website in the world won’t make or break your business — it’d still be one tree in a big forest. Partner with other brands. Try to get on gift lists. Advertise. Drive people to your tree.

Seasonal Products

holiday season retail in 2020
Tacky as stuff like Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte can be, there’s no avoiding the fact that consumers love that kind of thing. You don’t need to be a chocolate store to get out a Christmas range, and the more considered your holiday offering is, the more likely people will pick it up during their holiday shopping.
What about doing a set of cheaper products aimed at getting under a Kris Kringle price range? Or items that riff off popular seasonal products in a great way, like the wildly popular Advent Calendar chocolate range in Koko Black? Or partner with other brands to do a hamper, or an unexpected gift pack. You’d be surprised how popular it might turn out to be.

Holiday Season Retail Offers and Lures

It might be too late to offer any new products or get eCommerce started so close to Christmas, but you could still run a seasonal offer now if you haven’t already. Free or discounted shipping will go a long way this year, or even a little gift or thank you Christmas card in anything you ship out. If you’re a store that might be in a Council initiative zone, make a play for voucher holders over social media or in-store with some smart messaging. There are still initiatives that you can run, even this close to the season. Better something than nothing, right?

In Short

Victorians are likely to keep spending through the lead up to the holiday season, and savvy retailers might be able to get a foot through the door for their share of the pie if they act quickly. Bolster your online presence, create seasonal products or tie-ins, and lure customers in with value-added offers — and more. Need more help? We're happy to have a quick chat.

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