Retail vs Ecommerce: Holiday Shopping

With the 2023 holiday shopping season officially upon us, what can we expect from consumers? We’ll provide a brief overview of the holiday shopping trends since 2018 with our insights. Then we’ll talk about 2023 projections and how businesses need to adapt to attract the always-changing consumer.

Increasing Trend (2018-2020):

From 2018 to 2020, there was a clear and steady increase in the percentage of holiday sales conducted online, with the online share rising from 18% to 24%. This trend was likely influenced by the growing popularity and convenience of online shopping.

Consumers increasingly turn to e-commerce platforms for a wide range of products and the convenience of shopping from home or using mobile devices.


Pandemic Peak (2020):

The year 2020 saw a more significant increase, reaching 24%, which can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns, social distancing, and health concerns drove more consumers to shop online for safety reasons.

E-commerce became a lifeline for many retailers as physical stores faced restrictions and limitations.


Stagnation and Slight Decrease (2021-2023):

In 2021, there was a slight decrease in the online share to 22%. This decrease could be associated with the easing of pandemic-related restrictions and consumers returning to physical stores.

The subsequent increase to 23% in 2022 and the projected stagnation at 23% in 2023 suggest that online shopping has reached a certain level of adoption, and growth may have plateaued.

Consumers may have found a balance between in-person and online shopping, depending on their preferences and the products they are purchasing.


The Consumer:

The variations in online sales percentages likely reflect consumer behavior and preferences.

The ability to see, touch, and try on products in physical stores can be a significant factor for certain types of purchases, such as apparel, electronics, and furniture. On the other hand, online shopping offers advantages like convenience, a wider product selection, and the ability to compare prices easily.

Some consumers may prefer the tactile experience and immediacy of in-store shopping for certain items, while others value the convenience and variety offered online.


Ongoing Importance of Omnichannel Strategies:

Retailers need to adopt omnichannel strategies to cater to diverse consumer preferences. This means integrating online and offline shopping experiences, providing options like buy online, pick up in-store, and ensuring a seamless transition between the two.

The projected stagnation in online sales may indicate that consumers have found a balance between online and in-person shopping that works best for them. For the time being, it looks like retail holiday shopping will remain dominant and account for over 75% of total holiday sales.

Looking at the future of holiday shopping, it’s likely we’ll see a shift in online preference as the next generation enters the workplace and accounts for consumers. We’ve already seen an impact from Gen Z’s online shopping habits; will Generation Alpha prefer to do their holiday shopping online or in person?

When additional 2023 holiday shopping data becomes available, we’ll update this blog and provide insight into what we saw.


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