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Holiday Retail Sales

Halloween has passed and the holiday shopping season is now upon us. Even a quick trip to Whole Foods signals the gifting season is here. Toy displays will have your kids already starting to list out their requests to Santa. How will the political climate and enduring pandemic impact holiday retail sales this year? We’re breaking down what to expect below and opportunity to make the most out of this selling season. 


Mall holiday events used to be a big deal. Lines to sit on Santa’s lap would wrap down entire corridors. Santa is going to look much different this year. Expect socially distances plexiglass snow domes along with your snowflake mask.

Retailers are scrambling to adjust inventory and schedule to keep up with the increased e-commerce demand. The shift online continues to accelerate this year. Digitally native, direct-to-consumer brands have both an advantage and a new set of competition. DTC brands that already have the infrastructure and inventory to fulfill the growing e-commerce demand are poised to take advantage of organic growth. However, major retailers that once treated their e-commerce businesses like an afterthought, are dropping huge budgets to build out this sector now. This adds a level of competition to startup brands in what used to be their home turf. 

Seasonal event hiring is going to be drastically cut this year with a third wave of coronavirus building.  Holiday retail jobs and playing an elf at a local North Pole display have long provided students and seniors with extra cash during this costly time of year. Expect those consumers in particular to reduce their holiday spending this year. The changes we are seeing now in retail will likely extend to many years to come. 


Corporate holiday parties? Cancelled. Friendsgivings? Postponed till further notice. All in all, holiday celebrations are expected to be few and far between. Many families are struggling with one or more members of the household unemployed due to Covid.

Although Amazon Prime Day has helped boost October sales, the overall season is forecasted to show a 7% decrease in year over year sales. Amazon and other major department stores aimed to shift holiday spending to start in October to alleviate the holiday fulfillment crunch. They were effective in increasing sales over the Prime Week period. However, concerns about economic instability resulting from the Covid pandemic and a lingering post-election stimulus deal has 38% of shoppers planning to spend less this year than years passed, according to Deloitte’s InSightIQ team. 


Buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) was implemented by many retailers as a pandemic safter measure. Now, numbers are showing that this channel will evolve into a consumer preference for convenience. The percentage of consumers who used this option because of safety has decreased. In the same time frame, the percentage of consumers using it because it is both faster and less expensive than delivery has increased. 

Look forward to innovative collaborations between brick-and-mortar and digitally native brands to join forces on offering instore pick up for brands with an online only presence. For start-up brands and local boutique businesses this could be a mutually beneficial partnership to offset shipping and return costs and retail leases. 


Holiday gift guides are a commonly used marketing tool that offer a good point of entry for new customers. They are also used to push existing customers to make a purchase. Gift guides are pulling more weight than ever in this year’s climate. Brands are relying more than ever on large holiday spikes in sales to keep them afloat into 2021. 

Journelle, the boutique intimate apparel retailer, sent out their holiday gift guide in October, a month earlier than usual. They will roll-out a second guide over a 12-day period in December.  Guido Campello, co-CEO of the brand told Glossy, “The gift guides typically allow for no-friction conversion, and the idea is only going to be more important for people this year. A lot of people are also concerned about costs right now, and gift guides can help them find out about sales early in the season.” Campello said he is working on holiday gifting and guides for seven or eight months of the year. 

When done right, gift guides can really generate a large increase in sales. Amazon’s 2017 holiday gift guide returned a 40% increase in sales from the year before. Adding shoppable links to your gift guide makes the conversion barrier-free for your consumer. 

Gift guides take proactive planning well in advanced and budget to implement. There may be options for you to take advantage of gift guides this holiday season if you have not yet planned your approach. Think collaboration! Pinpoint like-minded brands that you could connect with for a joint campaign to gain exposure to your respective consumer base. 

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