"Government stimulus money no longer flowing, changes to unemployment checks, and increased savings during the pandemic are all unknown variables that will impact consumer spending this holiday," says Brad Eckhart, partner, Columbus Consulting.
“This upcoming holiday season, retailers can expect significant store growth over last year from a traffic perspective, since shoppers are likely to feel safer returning to shopping malls,” notes Brad Eckhart, partner, Columbus Consulting. “Retailers who have managed their inventory tightly during these past months of unpredictable demand must now begin building up their safety stock, carefully determining to what magnitude this increase should be. Furthermore, BOPIS was a success last year and will continue to be heavily used throughout this holiday. However, there will be some unknowns. Government stimulus money no longer flowing into the marketplace, changes to unemployment checks, and increased savings by the consumer during the pandemic are all unknown variables that will impact consumer spending this holiday.”
[See more: Consistent Store Execution Delivers Your Brand Promise]
“The last couple of months have shown some positive signs toward increase visitation across key categories such as malls and children clothing stores,” says Dan Silver, SVP marketing, GroundTruth. “But growing concerns surrounding the Delta variant have the potential to make some consumers take a more cautious approach to the upcoming holiday shopping season. This means that brands will need to continue offering flexible shopping options such as curbside pickup to accommodate health and safety concerns and reach their customers with personalized messages that align with the way they want to buy. Offline behavioral data can help retailers understand brand preferences among their customers and how much time they are spending with competitors. These strategic insights can guide how and when brands spend their marketing budgets during what is likely to be a flux holiday season.”
“The entire sales channel will be affected, from overseas to the end consumer,” predicts John Gilbo, enterprise account executive at Pricefx. “Be prepared by obtaining data in a way you can easily understand to make decisions. It’s wise to also obtain external data so you can make informed decisions about inventory, price segments, market share, and bi-directional data. If pricing needs to be increased, provide transparency throughout the chain, noting that delays may be caused due to the current conditions. And rather than point out a problem, it could be wise to share alternative solutions, or products on partner sites, etc.”
“Sellers should calculate expected holiday demand based on prior benchmarks and recent data from marquee sales events including Prime Day 2021,” says Dani Nadel, president and COO, Feedvisor. “During the event, third-party sellers saw a 100% year-over-year sales increase and had the biggest two-day selling period yet, according to Amazon. By adding a 20% inventory increase for non-seasonal items and ensuring inventory arrives at Amazon's fulfillment centers weeks in advance, sellers can curtail potential supply chain concerns. Furthermore, it is important for sellers to understand the relationship between pricing, advertising, and inventory for optimal holiday performance. It is only by understanding the correlation between these metrics that sellers will be able to make the most informed strategic business decisions and instantly take profitable actions during this peak sales season.”
“As the holiday season approaches, there’s going to be a continued surge in demand for items like furniture and appliances as consumers continue home improvement projects,” says Brenda Stoner, CEO and founder, PICKUP. “And though replenishment has been slow (with up to six months lead time for upholstery), we can expect that as products become more available, there will be a steady growth in high value purchases through the end of the year. As a result, some of the best e-commerce providers have added filters to their sites to screen for product availability. They have also invested heavily in solving for speed, flexibility and convenience.”
"This year, retailers face a new challenge: increased competition for a smaller pool of employees," says Toni Thompson, RRD’s president of retail solutions. "Standing out in the crowded employer marketplace takes more than increasing wages, although that undoubtedly helps. In order to attract and retain staff this year, retailers must take a page from their customer marketing playbook and focus on the employee experience. Take the time to find out what your staff really cares about, such as safety, flexible scheduling, quality of life, a fun or purpose-filled working environment AND elements of pay – and meet these needs. More than ever, it’s critical to listen and invest in your team, making them feel engaged and part of a greater mission."
[See more: E-Fulfillment Race In Tight Labor Market Means Efficiency Trumps All]
"The keys to success for retailers will be preparing stores and digital channels, keeping key items—and alternatives—in stock, offering compelling promotions and managing orders alongside persistent shipping issues due to FedEx and UPS capacity constraints and surcharges," says Rick Maicki, a managing director at Berkeley Research Group.
"When people work, entertain, and eat indoors, they tend to spend more on particular items and pay less attention to their prices," says Yulia Beregovaya, Lead Pricing Solutions Architect at Competera. "For example, demand for home decor items would increase in case of new social life restrictions. In the opposite case, people would flock to fairs and festivals and shop spontaneously buying more products associated with the offline experience. In any case, for the mass category retailers, especially in e-commerce, it's vital to monitor competitor prices to lure buyers with the best holiday offerings as all possible variants are available in two clicks. Still, it is also important to remember that holiday shopping makes many consumers less sensitive to prices, yet more demanding in regards to the quality of experience they get in stores.