Holiday Trends

Here’s How Brands Can Prepare For Holiday Shoppers In 2021

‘Tis the season for holiday shoppers to flood stores and social media feeds to be full of gift suggestions. Buying presents for loved ones in 2021 looks different than in years past, and brands should prepare accordingly. 

Although 2020 didn’t offer a traditional holiday season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, an overwhelming majority of Americans still planned to shop for the holidays in 2020 (69%). This year, that number will increase to 70%. As a result, there’s a sizable opportunity for brands to form connections with – and get their products into –  the hands of consumers this holiday season. Here’s how brands can prepare for holiday shoppers in 2021. 

Who Is The 2021 Holiday Shopper?

To begin, brands must have an understanding of the 2021 holiday shopper. Researchers found that three-quarters  of consumers are anticipating supply chain shortages. To ensure they’re getting the products they want, consumers are shopping earlier than they did in the past. In fact, as of September 2021, nearly 31% of consumers in the U.S. have already begun shopping for the holidays. 

That’s not all brands should know about holiday shoppers in 2021, however. These consumers are embracing multifaceted, omnichannel experiences. In fact, over a third of U.S. consumers have incorporated omnichannel features (i.e., ordering online and picking up in-store) into their typical shopping routine since the COVID-19 pandemic. Of those consumers, almost two-thirds will continue to do so. 

Brand loyalty is also up for grabs this holiday season. An August 2020 McKinsey survey revealed that more than 75% of consumers in the U.S. altered their shopping behaviors and changed to use new brands during the pandemic. Unsurprisingly, consumers switched for better value, availability, and convenience. As a result, holiday shoppers in 2021 are willing to try different brands, and there’s an opportunity for companies to garner new customers due to this. 

Lastly, the holiday shopper in 2021 will be spending more. The average parent with a child under 18 years old plans on spending $276 per child on holiday presents this year. In addition, shoppers with significant others plan to spend approximately $251 on gifts for that person, on average. A recent survey completed by American Express indicated that 38% of consumers plan to spend more money this holiday season. A McKinsey analysis reveals that fourth-quarter consumer spending this year is projected to increase seven percent over 2020 and nine percent compared to 2019. This increase is mainly due to younger consumers and high-income earners purchasing products.

How—And Where—Are Holiday Shoppers Making Purchases This Year?

Shopping for holiday presents this year is a multifaceted process. Consumers increasingly incorporate apps, websites, and in-person shopping into their holiday shopping inspiration, ordering, and fulfillment process. Therefore, brands should prepare to deliver a seamless experience on all fronts.

In addition to this, in-store shopping is regaining some ground this year. Many Americans are once again comfortable with visiting public spaces. A September 2021 survey indicated that Americans are comfortable with visiting coffee shops (58%), restaurants (56%), and movie theaters (44%). However, the most significant portion indicated that they’re comfortable shopping in retail stores (64%). These statistics demonstrate that there could be a revival of in-store purchasing this season, though brands should not abandon digital touchpoints and should lean into them for product discovery.

However, consumers aren’t entirely abandoning their pandemic-era shopping habits. 85% of consumers indicate that they plan to continue or accelerate the shopping behaviors they adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic, which means only 15% will ultimately return to their old shopping habits. Consumers will continue to look for convenience, and curbside pickup/buy online pickup in-store options continue to exceed their pre-pandemic levels of popularity. For consumers that shop online, 73% will select standard delivery.

What Brands Should Know To Prepare For The 2021 Holiday Shopping Season 

Now that you understand the 2021 holiday shoppers and how they shop, it’s time to properly discuss what brands should know to prepare for this holiday season. First, brands need to understand what motivates shoppers and highlight their shopping options based on this. For instance, your brand can offer consumers digitally-enabled experiences such as the ability to try products virtually. 

Next, creating a cohesive, easy-to-navigate mobile experience is increasingly valuable. Shoppers are mobile-first, and this has become even more prevalent over the last year. Since COVID-19 began, over 25% of consumers have been shopping with their mobile devices. In addition, app usage continues to soar. On Google, for instance, the search “online shopping app download” has increased globally by 300% year over year. 

Lastly, brands should implement tactics to boost loyalty with pre-existing consumers and create connections with new ones. Brands can utilize digital channels to achieve this. Therefore, companies must create engaging digital touchpoints. Google research indicates that 64% of pre-existing consumers engaged with a digital touchpoint through the shopping journey (on average). This percentage is even more significant (80%) for new customers. 

At Inspira Marketing Group, we are passionate about providing your company with the resources necessary to impact consumers. Connect with us today to learn how Inspira can help your brand form a strong connection with pre-existing customers and potential new customers alike. 


U.S.: 2021 holiday shopping forecast | YouGov  

Tips for the 2021 holiday marketing season | Think With Google  

Is the fun ever coming back to holiday shopping? | Retail Dive  

How much holiday shoppers plan to spend, and how they can avoid debt | CNBC  

2021 Deloitte holiday retail survey | Deloitte  

38% of Consumers Say They’ll Spend More on the Holidays This Year. Here’s How They Can Avoid Debt | USA Today 

McKinsey: 75% of Americans have changed brands during the pandemic | ZDNet  

Omnichannel: The path to value | McKinsey  

US holiday shopping 2021: Strong demand meets significant challenges | McKinsey  

Prepare For Early Shoppers, Offer Hybrid Buying Options Ahead Of The Holiday Season | YouGov 

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