For months, retailers and marketers convinced customers to start their holiday shopping early to avoid the stress of limited inventory – thanks to the highly reported supply chain delays. Black Friday and Cyber Monday became month-long events instead of the usual post-Thanksgiving whirlwind weekend of deep discounts. Early reports show a continued rise in spending, but with a slight slowdown in November due to this earlier start to the holiday rush.
These early numbers, however, vary by category. Clothing retailers and home improvement stores are seeing an increase in sales while electronics, automotive, personal care, and general merchandise stores, such as department stores, are seeing decreases. As Americans enter the final week of shopping, predictions for December are mixed, due to the latest rise in COVID, canceled events and parties, and warmer than normal temperatures potentially dampening the festive Christmas spirit – but the mild weather may also see more people out without the threat of ice and snow. Last-minute shopping options like buy online, pick up in-store and curbside delivery help to ease concerns about on-time shipping and virus exposure as the numbers increase.
Experts are standing by to see if factors like supply issues, high inflation rates, and the decrease in overall consumer sentiment will also impact Q4’s overall sales as more shoppers report having trouble finding items. In a survey done last week by Jeffries Financial Group, 44% of surveyed respondents said they were unable to make a holiday purchase due to items being out of stock, a jump of seven percentage points versus November. Inflation rates are soaring at the highest they’ve been in almost 40 years. On a positive note, the University of Michigan’s gauge of consumer sentiment saw a small uptick in December - at 70.4 index versus 67.4 in November - but still a big decline from the December 2020 index of 80.7.
In a shopping season unlike any other (ok well, maybe like Holiday 2020), retailers will certainly have questions as to why or why they did not have a successful season when comparing themselves to their competitors. Did they effectively communicate their message to consumers? Use the right marketing channels to reach them? Provide positive shopping experiences and customer service? Deliver fast shipping and easy returns? All factors contribute to how customers make the decisions to buy from a brand and shop in a store.
If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s to learn how to expect the unexpected and to be able to pivot as consumer needs change with the times. Sure, leaders in the retail industry and brand managers can scour the trades and plan based on market predictions, but wouldn’t it be better to ask your customers directly why they make the choices they make when choosing where to shop and what to buy?
Gathering actionable customer insights doesn’t have to take months or break the bank – Vennli can help you get the answers you need to develop the services and products your customers really want and stand out against the competition in today’s challenging retail environment.