E-commerce Holiday Sales: Succeeding During COVID-19

2020 has been and will continue to be a challenging year for virtually all business and individuals. With sales forecasts down and stock markets a-tumble, everything is uncertain. Except one thing – Americans still have a fever for all things seasonal. Despite everything going on, there’s a bright spot for online businesses. They still have the opportunity to boost their e-commerce holiday sales and come out on top.

How much do Americans spend on holidays, anyway?

Good question! This depends on the holiday in question, but in general, Americans love buying seasonal decorations, clothing, foods, gifts, and more. When you think about holiday shopping, the few weeks spanning the gap between Black Friday and Christmas might be what comes to mind. Holiday sales, though, encompass much more than that. Take Halloween, for example – a relatively minor holiday. And yet, in 2019, Americans spent nearly 9 billion dollars on the holiday. Less than a third of that was candy, leaving the rest of the market share for costumes, themed t-shirts, spooky decorations, and more. 

While Independence Day had 10% fewer revelers this year than last, those who did celebrate planned to spend the same amount as they did in 2019. While Easter 2020 saw less consumer spending than in recent years, businesses that did turn a profit were grateful for their websites, which was where most sales were conducted for seasonal goods last spring.

But isn’t non-essential spending down?

While non-essential sales are down for many items and categories, many industries stand to benefit from the COVID-19 crisis. If you don’t have a functioning sales website, now is absolutely the time to get one. Last year, before COVID-19 even hit the US, the retail holiday market saw more e-commerce sales than ever before. Now, after the onset of the crisis, more than one-third of shoppers say they are making online purchases at least weekly. Sales of home decor, fashion, and accessories are up from last year.

This leaves a massive, beautiful space for holiday retailers or even new e-commerce businesses to capitalize on seasonal sales this year. E-commerce holiday sales in terms of themed clothing or accessories and indoor and outdoor decorations is likely to gain this year, unlike most other categories of sales. 

How can e-commerce holiday sales be boosted?

  1. Give customers new ideas for celebrating

Many consumers are bummed by the idea that they won’t be able to celebrate this year’s holidays like they usually would. Save the day by offering innovative ideas and products. With many parents forgoing trick-or-treating this year, offering Halloween scavenger hunt packages or Halloween baskets could be a great way to boost customer spending. Think about developing and marketing products that allow the whole family to have fun from home. This year, everyone needs reasons to celebrate. Give them the opportunity to enjoy the season by expanding your offerings for decor and attire.

       2. Offer discounts on your e-commerce holiday sales items

Millions of Americans have been hit hard by COVID-19 financially. They may not be in a position to spend as much money on holidays as they planned to this year. For these customers, discounts and sales can enable them to enjoy your holiday products. Percentage-off deals for specific seasonal sales can be very motivating, and this year is no different! Well-timed promotions from your company could make the difference between low e-commerce holiday sales and great ones this season.

       3. Step it up with added value 

Because budgets are tighter, consumers will be shopping around before making their purchases this year, even on small items. A small amount of added value could make the difference for choosy customers. Consider offering to include a small printed gift note with a message of the customer’s choice at no cost. Adding an option for gift wrapping for a couple of dollars is a fantastic idea. Making holiday gift giving easy is key this year; and remember, gifts aren’t limited to the December season, especially this year. Since families and friends may not have the opportunity to connect in-person, many will want to send gifts for a diverse array of occasions. Customers also love free shipping. If at all possible, offer free shipping from your site with a minimum purchase price – in the end, you will almost definitely make more money from this offer than you lose in shipping costs!

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited for the e-commerce holiday sales season this year, both as a customer and as an industry worker! Want to level-up your e-commerce sales in time for seasonal sales? Check out our tips for building an effective e-commerce website.

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Chantelle Gossner

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