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A holiday season like we’ve never seen before… 3 Trends you can’t ignore

10 August 2021

In many ways 2020 has been a year like we’ve never seen before. And the 2020 holiday season will be no exception.

Black Friday, the unofficial kick-off of the holiday season is said to have received its name, as retailers’ books traditionally go from “in the red” to “in the black”, with retailers on average generating 30% of the yearly revenue between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Shopping behavior around Black Friday has been changing over the last few years and will continue to do so this year, especially in the light of COVID-19. What are the trends you should keep and eye on and what do they mean for your business?

1. Black Friday has gone global

Unlike a few years ago, the event isn’t solely a one-day U.S.- American sales peak anymore. Black Friday has gained tremendous importance here in Europe as well.

Taking a look at our home turf the Netherlands e.g. we see that Black Friday has become really popular in 2018. Compared to 2017, we saw a 214% increase in searches for “Black Friday Deals” (source: Google Trends). This number increased by another 14% the following year.

And this makes perfect sense: We Dutchies love discounts, and Black Friday is the perfect opportunity to get our Sinterklaas and Christmas gifts for a fraction of the price we’d pay in December.

Google Searches for “Black Friday Deals” in the Netherlands 2016-2020 (Google Trends)

For our neighbor Germany the increase from 2018 to 2019 is the biggest: In 2019, the amount of searches for “Black Friday Deals” increased by 270% compared to the previous year.

Google Searches for “Black Friday Deals” in Germany 2016-2020 (Google Trends)

In the UK, Black Friday has been around for quite some time, and it’s the only country in Europe with a slight decrease in interest in deals (8%) last year compared to 2019.

Google Searches for “Black Friday Deals” in the UK 2016-2020 (Google Trends)

2. Black Friday is becoming Black Week

Retailers no longer wait until Friday to offer their discounts. Instead, discounts are being published the entire week leading up to Thanksgiving/Black Friday, and shoppers continue to look for deals throughout the weekend and Cyber Monday. The term “Black Week” is becoming more common.

Here at Sooqr we see the same trend. While in previous years, search traffic among our customers only spiked on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we now see traffic increases for the entire week leading up to Black Friday. Searches and clicks for our customers were up by 15% last year compared to 2018 in the week prior to Black Friday.

Sooqr Searches during “Black Week” in 2019 compared to 2018

3. Focus on online sales

The trend that stands out most, of course, is the transition from off- to online sales. Even before COVID-19, we’ve seen a shift to online sales during the holidays: In 2019, online sales during Black Friday were up by 19% compared to 2018 according to Adobe Analytics.

But what will this season look like in times of COVID-19? With social distancing rules still in effect and restrictions in many countries becoming stricter again, we won’t see the images we (also here in Europe) have become used to seeing: Stores opening their doors at midnight with masses forming lines for hours and then storming in to get their bargains. In fact, many U.S. retailers (Walmart, Best Buy, Target and co.) have already announced giving their employees Thanksgiving off this year to avoid foot traffic.

It’s very unlikely we’ll see scenes like this one this year.  (Image Source: Reuters)

With the global pandemic, we can expect an even bigger increase in online sales during the holiday season this year. Here in the Netherlands, in the second quarter of 2020, turnover from e-commerce was already 54.8% higher than in the same quarter in 2019. This is the largest growth ever recorded. DHL is investing 125 million euros and the national post service had to scale up by 40% to keep up with the rising demand as a consequence of this strong growth. (source: Emerce)

While shoppers were forced to shop online during the global lockdown they have become more confident in it, and even industries that traditionally have a rather small percentage of online sales (think home & garden for example) see an uplift. So, we enter this holiday season with shoppers ready to buy online.

Among these online shoppers we see another clear shift: More sales than ever are coming from mobile devices. In the U.S., Black Friday 2019 was “the biggest day ever for mobile,” with over $ 2.9 billion in sales according to Adobe Analytics. 39% of all online purchases came from smartphones, a 21% increase compared to 2018.

In the Netherlands, we’ve seen the number of consumers using their phone for purchases rise from just 20% in 2016 to 49% in 2020. The study also shows that mobile shoppers that use their phone to buy online on average buy more often than desktop shoppers. (source: What’s Happening Online, Ruigrok NetPanel study).

So, what does this mean for you and your business?

  1. Even if you’re not located in the U.S., your clients will expect you to offer discounts. Black Friday has gone global.
  2. You should start your campaigns early. Think beyond just Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Some retailers start publishing discounts as early as October. 
  3. Invest in your online presence to ensure people find your store.

With not only the online sales volume but also the number of competitors in the online space increasing significantly, you need to ensure that potential shoppers land in your webshop when looking for deals. A well worked out SEA and SEO strategy will pay off especially during the holiday season. 

  1. Optimize your webshop for conversion. Especially on mobile.

Once you have visitors on your site, you need to ensure they have a top-notch experience. Remember, there is plenty of competition out there your visitors will happily go to, if they don’t like what they see on your site.

Online shoppers during the holiday season have a high buying intent and come to your site in most cases knowing exactly what they want. So, you need to make sure they find what they’re looking for on your site fast. Did you know that 3 in 4 Black Friday shoppers bounce due to a poor search experience? And that 43% of your visitors will go to your search bar immediately?

You’ll boost your competitive advantage during the busiest season of the year tremendously by optimizing your onsite search. To cater to the increasing number of smartphone shoppers you simply can’t afford to neglect having an awesome search on mobile as well.

Is your store ready for this holiday season?

To check quickly if your webshop and especially your onsite search engine are ready for the busiest season of the year, take our “Check My Search” quiz. After 13 easy questions, you’ll know more. Take the free quiz now:

Prefer for one of our Conversion Specialists to take a look? We’re more than happy to! Simply let us know here that you’d like to receive a free evaluation.

Do you have any conversion tips for the holidays you’d like to share? We love hearing from you. Please reach us at [email protected].

Thanks for reading!

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