To say that 2020 hasn’t gone according to plan is something of an understatement, isn’t it? You’d be hard pressed to find an individual or organisation that hasn’t been affected by coronavirus in some way. 

At the time of writing, however, things are starting to return to some sort of normality. And of course, as we race towards the end of Q3, our minds are naturally beginning to turn towards Christmas. 

In this article, we explore some of the retail trends emerging in the lead up Christmas 2020 and the ways in which shopping behaviours are likely to be affected by the pandemic. 

Christmas is starting earlier than before

While everyone in marketing and manufacturing gears up for the biggest event in the retail calendar in spring and summer, most consumers don’t start thinking about their Christmas shopping until September.

Until this year. 

According to Pinterest, Christmas-related searches on the platform started way back in April. Why? According to the social media platform, people were searching for something to look forward to in the midst of lockdown.

And that trend isn’t just playing out on social media. John Lewis & Partners saw similar behaviours. In fact, the high-street retailer launched its online Christmas shop 10 days earlier than usual, due to an increased number of Christmas-related searches on its website during August. 

KEY TAKEAWAY: Start promoting your Christmas products and promotions in store as soon as possible in order to meet customer demand. Make clever use of both online and offline marketing to drive awareness and sales. 

Nervousness in store

According to a recent survey by Simple Usability, 72% of survey respondents said their attitudes towards shopping in physical stores has changed, stating that safety measures make them feel ‘anxious’ and ‘nervous’.

As such, it’s fair to assume that Christmas shopping trips won’t be an ‘event’ this year. People are more likely to make targeted purchases – dashing in and out of shops – without taking time to browse the shelves and make impulse purchases.  

KEY TAKEAWAY: Make sure your stores are clearly signposted, clearly highlighting offers and product launches, so they catch your customers’ eyes.

The rise of contactless shopping

In response to coronavirus, even when customers are shopping in store, they’re not spending cash – they’re using cards to make payments at self-service kiosks in order to avoid contact with sales teams. In fact, 33% of people surveyed by GoCompare are avoiding using cash because of the risk of spreading coronavirus. 

KEY TAKEAWAY: Identify ways to increase cross sales with promotions and messaging at self-service checkouts, both at POS stations and around them. 

Making ecommerce special

“We’re seeing more brands looking to deliver memorable experiences,” says Business Development Director Adrian Kingsland: “Christmas is the ideal time to surprise your customers with a free gift. It’s a very simple way of achieving a positive response from the customer; when they open their parcel to discover there’s a little something extra waiting inside.”

KEY TAKEAWAY: Consider ways to personalise and enhance the ecommerce experience to encourage repeat business and loyalty. 

Read more: Q&A with Adrian Kingsland

Local Love

During lockdown, Brits fell in love with local stores and suppliers. 

A YouGov poll published in June showed that one in three people used local shops since the start of the pandemic, with a further eight in 10 saying they would continue once the lockdown was over.

This trend looks set to continue during the Christmas period as customers continue to support their local businesses.

KEY TAKEAWAYS: Promote local outlets and with clear signage and branding on your shop front and introduce loyalty rewards for your customers. Again, use online and offline marketing techniques to attract customers into your stores. 

Still planning your Christmas campaigns?

Drop us a line to discuss your display needs for the festive season. From free-standing displays to signs and visual merchandising, we can help your business make the most of Christmas.