How Will COVID-19 Impact Consumer Holiday Shopping Behavior?


WWD | July 1, 2020


Tis the season to discuss potential impacts on consumer holiday shopping behaviors, according to retail solution firm Voxware — and it appears that gifts will be purchased mostly online, and early, due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Voxware said it surveyed 500 U.S. consumers in early June to gauge how holiday shopping may evolve due to COVID-19 concerns, and its key findings revealed that newly emerged behaviors may strain distribution operations.


Fifty-one percent of respondents expect to begin holiday shopping earlier than normal this year, the survey found, likely due to expectations for slower or delayed deliveries. Unsurprisingly, most of the shopping will take place online, with 76 percent of respondents saying they intend to purchase more than half of their gifts online, inclusive of stocking stuffers and last-minute gifts, according to 62 percent of respondents.


Another interesting change is that 57 percent said gifts will be shipped directly to recipients, more so than last year.


New expectations present “serious challenges” for promoting products, inventory stocking and cost-effectively selecting and fulfilling orders, the firm explained.


Distribution centers may increasingly be expected to ship items within a single order to multiple addresses, Voxware said. COVID-19-driven behaviors require rethinking how to optimize item selection, order sorting, label printing, packing order confirmation forms and boxing — not to mention how to handle gift wrapping services,” they said.


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