Holiday Shopping Not Cancelled This Year


Holiday shopping will commence despite COVID-19, with Canadian consumers planning to shop largely online and many planning to shop last minute, says a survey by RedFlagDeals.com. Nearly half of respondents (43 per cent) already started their holiday shopping as early as October. Ninety per cent of holiday shoppers planned to shop on Black Friday and 59 per cent planned on doing majority of their holiday purchasing during Black Friday sales events. More than half of respondents (54 per cent) also planned to shop in November and December.

Last minute shopping holds true for 32 per cent of shoppers who say that they will finish their shopping one to two days before the holidays commence. This stands despite nearly one in three consumers confirming their household’s financial situation is worse than the previous year.

Deloitte’s ‘2020 Holiday Survey’ says that 38 per cent of consumers plan to spend less this holiday season, a level not seen since the financial crisis. Canadian pride rings true for 63 per cent of shoppers who will make a point of supporting Canadian retailers this holiday season due to the ramifications of COVID-19 on the retail industry, despite their personal financial setbacks.

Online Shopping Triumphs

The Red Flag survey says that 79 per cent of buyers found in-person shopping to be more stressful due to crowds/lines, limited inventory, and pandemic concerns.

COVID-19 stresses aside, the bulk of shoppers (85 per cent) say that the best deals are found online versus in-store. The process is generally easier for consumers to shop online to avoid some of that holiday stress. Eighty-eight per cent say that they plan to research online before going in-store to make purchases.

Deloitte’s study says majority of generations prefer online retailers opposed to retail stores. Sixty-three per cent of Gen Zers prefer online retailers, as do 61 per cent of Millennials, 67 per cent of Gen Xers, and 62 per cent of Boomers. Seniors are the only generation to prefer shopping in retail stores, at 61 per cent.

“I think we'll continue to see people shopping online, taking advantage of the new features that some stores have rolled out like curbside pickup or click-and-collect style shopping where the customer doesn't have to enter the store; they pay online and the employees bring the products to their car,” says Kate Musgrove, director of RedFlagDeals.com.

When They Shop In-Store

Some shoppers still plan to shop in stores this holiday season, however. “Despite concerns about COVID-19, many consumers still plan to shop in-store this holiday season and others will take advantage of services like BOPIS or curbside,” says Kim Melvin, leader of marketing, at Sensormatic Solutions. “For in-store shopping, this requires retailers to provide their customers with a safe and comfortable experience. Real-time occupancy tracking solutions can help by not only ensuring retailers comply with social distancing guidelines, but also optimizing cleaning schedules for high-touch areas and providing a better understanding of staffing needs both inside and outside the store.” As well, merchants can take a proactive approach to sales by embracing digital payment options, flexible payments, etc.

When consumers shop in-store, they will be doing so primarily to engage with merchandise before making a purchase. Almost half (43 per cent) of consumers are shopping in-store to browse for gift ideas and 39 per cent are doing so to see or touch products in-person before buying them. Only four per cent of consumers shop in-store to get advice from sales associates.

“This is shaping up to be the busiest holiday season online ever,” says Musgrove. “Shoppers and retailers alike [have started] early, and we expect strong sales to continue through the end of the year.”

Melissa Mihalis is staff writer with Home Improvement Retailing.