Retail Marketers, COVID or Not—The Holidays are Coming

The 2020 Holiday Shopping Season will be—to use a much-overused term—unprecedented. Retailers nationwide are reeling as they adapt to ever-changing guidelines for safe operations during a pandemic, adjusting their staff, services, and store hours in a constantly evolving environment. And as the days of summer dwindle down, the holiday season looms larger and more important than ever. Retailers successfully pivoting their marketing plan to respond to the changing landscape and attract shoppers is of paramount importance. Keep reading and download our infographic with retail insights for Holiday 2020 to guide your marketing strategy to success and strong ROI.

Retail Trends for Holiday 2020

Looking at survey data, the good news for retailers is the majority of consumers surveyed plan to spend the same as last year on holiday gifts. But how will the holiday shopping season look? With major retailers Walmart, Target and Best Buy announcing plans to be closed Thanksgiving Day, Holiday 2020 is going to be a lot different than its predecessors. (If we’ve learned anything from 2020, it’s to expect the unexpected!)

  • 66% of shoppers expect to increase their online purchases during the 2020 holiday season.
  • 67% of Mspark consumers depend on physical store locations being open for shopping needs.
  • 63% of shoppers say they are slightly or very much more likely to purchase from a retailer they know is following COVID-19 safety precautions in-store.

While some consumers remain interested in shopping in-store, safety concerns along with a greater comfort level with online shopping point to increased e-commerce activity than previous years.

What about timing?

  • 39% of shoppers plan to start shopping for the holidays in October into early November.
  • 41% of shoppers say they do not plan to shop any earlier for holiday gifts.
  • 30% plan to start on Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

So, retailers can expect an uptick of “early” shoppers as soon as October, with volume increasing as we move into November and December.

How much will shoppers be spending?

The majority of consumers surveyed plan to spend the same as last year on holiday gifts, meaning retailers should expect similar or higher order volumes as previous years.
According to consumers surveyed in Mspark’s markets by Prosper in July, 34% of consumers plan to spend the same on gifts as last year. There’s still a lot of uncertainty, though, as 30% of our consumers said, “It’s too early for me to know.”
The uncertainty among consumers as they plan for holiday shopping reflects the ongoing economic uncertainty during COVID-19 and its affect on spending habits. Consumers are more budget conscious than ever, which means advertisers need to make sure consumers are aware of their promotions, coupons and special events.

  • 36% plan to stick to a budget.
  • 31% plan to consider purchases more carefully.
  • 46% of consumers are more interested in deals, coupons, or promotions now than before COVID-19.

How can retailers engage consumers and draw them to their website or store for their 2020 holiday shopping? Consumers in our markets are strongly influenced by promotions and advertising inserts, through their mailbox.
48% of our consumers look for promotions and offers in their mailbox—that’s more than internet, newspaper, and magazines.

Drive Traffic and Sales With Direct Mail

Shared direct mail is a cost-effective, strategic way to target your best customers and put your message in their hands, at home, in their mailbox. Adding direct mail to your media mix increases ad awareness and purchase intent.

  • Stay top-of-mind with consumers while blunting competitors, reinforcing awareness developed online and driving the next action step of traffic to your website or store locations.
  • Advertisers just like you have achieved 33% lift in unaided ad awareness when print is integrated with digital campaigns vs. digital only campaigns. Print drives 11% purchase intent compared to only 4% with digital alone – that’s 175% increase when anchoring your digital campaign with print!
  • When print is paired with digital media, advertisers see as much as a 30% lift in response.
  • Increase circular distribution and strategically target your best customers to increase store or website traffic and increase ROI.
  • Over half of respondents who received advertising mail from e-retailers (51%) visited the e-retailer’s website as a result. A significant 44% made an online purchase as a result of this direct mail from the e-retailer. 19% shared this mail with someone, and 14% engaged with the e-retailer via social media.
  • 67% of Millennials frequently and occasionally use marketing mail as a prompt to go online.
  • 54% of Gen X frequently and occasionally use marketing mail as a prompt to go online.

By partnering with Mspark, you leverage direct mail experts who are familiar with your unique business needs. We offer full service: data analytics, design, print, postage, delivery, and reporting, as well as a variety of products to fit your budget and goals. Download our infographic to inspire your planning. Reach out to discuss your goals and strategy today!
Sources:, Prosper Insights & Analytics Monthly Consumer Survey July 2020, Valassis Consumer Survey May 2020, Print Campaign Analysis Millward Brown Digital, IPC Cross-Border E-Commerce Shopper Survey 2017, USPS Mail Moments Spring 2020 Review, AdMall AudienceScan 2020