It’s Beginning to Look Something Like Christmas…

An almost empty shopping centre

By Danny, 1 month ago (3 min read)

Dazzling lights illuminate the high street. A delicate layer of snow sprinkles the rooftops. The final bauble has been placed on the tree. Children’s imaginations are captured by the magic of the season…

… there’s a 2-mile-long socially distanced queue for Santa’s grotto. The elves are all wearing masks. Hand sanitiser is selling better than kids’ toys. Your turkey won’t be delivered until December 2024. Christmas could look very different this year.

What a depressing opening to a blog post, eh? While we’re not exactly spreading that early holiday cheer, with winter fast approaching, the fact remains: it’s beginning to look something like Christmas.

But amidst an ongoing pandemic and ever-changing lockdown restrictions, how exactly will Christmas look this year? How will consumer shopping habits differ from the ‘old norm’ this holiday season, and what does this mean for retailers online and otherwise?

Grab a cup of mulled wine and join us in the back of Santa’s sleigh as we set off to explore how COVID-19 looks set to impact holiday shopping this Christmas.

The new normal 

The holiday season and online shopping go together like Comet and Cupid, Donner and Blitzen. 

Despite 40% of shoppers worldwide citing a decrease in household income as a result of COVID-19, 42% of shoppers still plan on spending the same amount on presents and festivities as the previous year.

But with COVID-safe restrictions still being regularly imposed on brick and mortar stores up and down the high street, this means more money than ever before looks set to be spent through ecommerce.

A change in consumer shopping habits means a change in strategy for retailers, and the extent to which this is required will very much depend on your existing ecommerce presence and functionality.

In short, retailers need to ensure their digital strategies remain flexible and relevant to rapidly changing consumer preferences throughout the season.

What does this mean for you? Well, the in-store shopping experience was already experiencing significant change before the pandemic, with customers planning ahead and researching online before visiting physical stores. Throw in the increased focus on convenience amidst the global pandemic and one fundamental factor becomes increasingly important: local search.

With 64% of shoppers stating they intend to shop locally more often (a consumer preference influenced by both convenience and the desire to support local businesses financially), retailers should look to adapt their digital strategy to assert their local presence in SERPs.

Combine this with a 200% rise in local search terms including phrasing such as “now” and “near me” pre-pandemic, and this aspect of your online marketing becomes impossible to ignore. 

From organic search activity to paid search campaigns, take the time to get to grips with your existing local search presence to better understand how to adapt your visibility to meet evolving user intent.

The old normal, done differently

Of course, this doesn’t mean customers are looking to shop solely online. On the contrary, a greater focus on localised searches means that those comfortable doing so may intend on physically visiting your store to make a purchase.

This means retailers should look to champion customer convenience wherever possible. To do this, ensure information such as opening times, product availability and safety precautions are presented clearly and regularly updated.

The importance of the latter cannot be understated this holiday season. While we all love the warming excitement that comes with a bustling Christmas high street, this year’s in-store shopping experience isn’t going to be the one we know and love.

Health and safety concerns surrounding stores are only going to be exacerbated by the expectation of increased foot traffic throughout the holiday season. Retailers should look to adapt in order to reassure customers, offering convenience through hygiene-focused precautions like contactless payments and in-store collections.

While all Mariah Carey wants for Christmas is you, most customers would settle for safety and convenience this holiday season. So, to ensure everyone is simply having a Wonderful Christmastime, implement a flexible digital strategy that takes changing consumer habits seriously. Get this right and you can bring a little Joy To The World amidst a Christmas like no other, and see your customers Stay Another Day.

Need a helping hand making sure this Christmas is still the Most Wonderful Time of the Year for your business? Get in touch with the digital marketing experts at Land Digital to find out how we can help.