Last minute holiday shoppers forced to visit stores to make purchases found reduced inventories and fewer promotions as depleted inventories allowed for more full-priced selling.
Data from The NPD Group, Salesforce and the National Retail Federation show that as the holiday season draws to a closes sales have been stronger than might have been expected given the economic and societal challenges caused by COVID-19. Heading into the final weekend prior to Christmas shoppers were spending freely amid an environment of reduced discounting which bodes well for margins. For example:
“Now officially past comfortable shipping deadlines, last minute shoppers will be forced to look to physical retail stores for those remaining holiday gifts,” said Marshall Cohen, NPD’s chief industry advisor for retail. “While the arrival of the vaccine is likely to make consumers feel a little merrier, rising COVID-19 case counts will make BOPUS and curbside pick-up options more important than they have been all season.”
At Salesforce, vice president of strategy and insights Rob Garf, shared a similar view.
“Those retailers providing flexible and contactless fulfillment in the U.S. grew 44% higher than those that didn’t during the first two weeks of December. Retailers offering the convenience of ordering online with the confidence of getting the package on time will gain market share over the last few days leading up to Christmas,” Garf said.
Meanwhile, there is a lot of Christmas shopping to be done after Christmas. NRF’s research showed that two-thirds of holiday shoppers will likely shop in the week immediately following Christmas to take advantage of post-holiday sales and promotions (45%) and use gift cards (27%).
NRF has forecast that sales from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 will increase between 3.6% and 5.2% over 2019 to total between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion.