How COVID-19 Will Shape the 2020 Holiday Season: 5 Predictions on the Future of Retail

We’ve made five predictions on key trends that will help you plan for a successful 2020 holiday shopping season.

Heads up! This blog has a lot of great details. Don’t have time to read it all? Here’s our 1-minute version:

  1. COVID will set a new precedent in ecommerce penetration: We predict that up to 30% of global retail sales will be made through digital channels this upcoming holiday season.
  2. Holiday demand will be pulled earlier thanks to a later Winter event: We predict that the Winter event in December could potentially steal up to 10% of Cyber Week’s digital revenue. With merely 50 days between Winter event and Cyber Week, the reality is that consumers will finally make holiday purchases earlier in the season.
  3. Last-mile delivery will run out of capacity: We predict that parcels shipped by traditional delivery providers will exceed capacity by 5% across the globe between the week before Cyber Week and Boxing Day. That’s potentially 700 million gifts that are at risk of not arriving in time for the holidays. 
  4. Stores will be critical again this year: We predict that sites offering store pickup — curb side, inside, drive-through —  will see a 90% increase in digital sales over the previous holiday season. 
  5. Media mix will continue to dramatically shift to personalization and localization: We predict that 10% of mobile orders will be through social channels (with peak days reaching between 12%-15% of mobile orders). 

What does the number “118” mean to retailers? That’s the number of days between today (July 30th) and the start of Cyber Week. For some, that’s a lifetime away, but there is never enough time to prepare for the upcoming holiday season for brands and retailers. This year is the most challenging of all. Thanks to COVID-19, retail does not resemble what it did in years past.  Supply chains around the globe are buckling under extreme pressure, and unprecedented surges in digital commerce have limited shipping capacity and impacted delivery windows. There’s also a looming threat of a second wave of COVID-19 cases this upcoming fall and winter that has consumers across the world on edge with uncertainty.

For brands and retailers, these factors pose many challenges for the upcoming peak shopping season. The ability to effectively balance the marketing mix, accurately forecast demand, and efficiently fill orders are top priorities for executives. Using a combination of our comprehensive Salesforce Shopping Index and secondary resources, we’re making five bold predictions on key trends that will make or break your holiday season. Continue reading for what you need to know now to plan for a successful 2020 holiday shopping season.