How to Prepare for the 2015 Holiday Shopping Season

2015 holiday shopping trends

The holiday season is nearly upon us! More than at any other time of year, retailers are keeping a finely tuned eye on economic forecasts, and with good reason. The holiday season can make or break a retailer’s year.

With that in mind, here are a few retail trends to keep in mind as we share a forecast for the 2015 Holiday Season.

1. Expect a Modest Increase in Consumer Spending

There’s a lot on the line during the holiday season. Every year the business community tries to predict if it will be a boom or bust year for holiday spending. For the 2015 holiday season forecasters think is likely to be the biggest holiday season ever, with some analysts expecting this to be the year that holiday spending exceeds $1 trillion dollars.

Richard Feinberg, had this to say about the coming shopping season:

2015 could be the first year that online sales top 10 percent of all holiday spending… The Internet influences 60 percent of spending, thanks to customers searching online then spending in stores.

A trillion is a lot of dollars! However, when compared to last year, that’s an increase of just 5% to 7%. More conservative estimates expect the growth to be more in the range of 2.8% to 4% over the 2014 shopping season. More than last year, but not as much of an increase as most retailers would like to see before cracking open the bubbly on New Year’s Eve.

In any event, as much as 15% of American shoppers plan to spend more this year than in 2014. For the first time in recent memory, there are as many people planning to spend MORE this year as people that are planning to spend LESS.

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Another growing trend is the number of holiday shoppers planning to pick up a little something for themselves this year. Of the $805 each person is planning spend, on average, only $463 of that is earmarked for spending on family members.

Though it’s expected to be a modest increase, any year that’s supposed to be better than the one before is a good year!

2. A Longer Shopping Season on the Way

Every year, those of us who have run ourselves ragged with last-minute holiday shopping swear we are going to start earlier next year. It seems that 2015 may be the year we finally keep that promise to ourselves!

Black Friday will still be a big day for retailers, though with many stores staying open on Thanksgiving, the crowds might be a little more spread out. The most significant driver of a longer shopping season is an increase in online shopping, which has its own patterns and peak periods.

Lest you should think the era of the last-minute shopper is over, fear not! The always-accessible nature of mobile commerce still brings about a sharp spike in those last few shopping days in December. In fact, mobile commerce is paving the path for some changes in the ways shoppers manage all of their holiday shopping.

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3. E-Commerce Continues to be a Factor

E-Commerce is much more than a holiday trend, but online shopping will have more of an effect on the overall spend than in previous years. The lines between the online/offline shopping experience are becoming more blurry every year. This isn’t bad news for brick and mortar stores because many shoppers continue to conduct product research online but do their shopping in the store.

Related Post: Brick and Mortar Retail Sales are NOT Dead

Perhaps the most significant change is coming from the popularity of “BOPIS” transactions. The ability to “Buy-Online-Pickup-In-Store” gives consumers the very best of both worlds. They can choose the convenience of shopping from the comfort of their home while saving on shipping costs by picking up their purchases at a convenient time.

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This is a benefit to retailers too, as customers who would usually shop entirely online are now in the store, able to finish off the rest of their shopping while they’re at it. Enabling this kind of convenience is going to be a must for retailers, in 2015 and beyond.

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2015 Holiday Shopping Trend Message = Prepare for the Unexpected this Holiday Season

Based on this year’s forecasts, retailers have to be ready for anything this holiday season. Get ready for an earlier shopping season, but continue to expect many customers to make their shopping pilgrimages on the top shopping days like Black Friday.

There may not be time this year to develop new and innovative ways to encourage store visits, like BOPIS strategies and smartphone apps, but it’s definitely the way forward. At a minimum be sure that you are capturing metrics this holiday season so you are ready to implement new strategies next year. If you need to learn more about that, download our free guide on Retail Analytics below.

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