Many households may be heading back to school, but the holiday season is on the minds of many retail executives. That’s why summer 2022 is prime time for Retail TouchPoints to kickstart holiday coverage. We asked retail experts and analysts to share their predictions for the upcoming holiday season and offer tips to help retailers prepare.
The final product is a 23-page report featuring insights from 16 industry thought leaders and is available for download. But if you’re looking for some quick-hit thoughts and predictions, here are five of them.
Prediction 1: The Metaverse will Open New Opportunities for Holiday Engagement
Jill Standish, Global Lead, Accenture Retail Industry Group: “While the idea of having persistent shared virtual worlds existing in tandem with the real world is still a ways off, there are already a continuum of early metaverse-like experiences that retail can explore.
It’s important to recognize that this metaverse continuum also includes immersive platforms like Roblox and Web3 technologies like non-fungible tokens (NFTs). And we’re already seeing brands innovating in these areas — like the Gucci Garden on Roblox and Gap’s move into NFTs with the launch of its own collection of digital hoodie art.
These are fertile and emerging digital spaces for retail brands. Recent Accenture research revealed that around 60% of millennials want to buy real-life products in virtual worlds. And 64% of all consumers have purchased a virtual good or taken part in a virtual experience or service in the past year.”
Prediction 2: Operational Excellence will Help Omnichannel Retailers Stand Apart
Melissa Minkow, Director, Retail Strategy, CI&T: “Though ecommerce and mobile commerce sales will continue to grow, brick-and-mortar will still play a key role in holiday, especially when it comes to omnichannel strategy. Further digitizing the in-store side would maximize speed and convenience while empowering the customer.
More retailers offering mobile checkout would mean shorter cashier lines and free up associates to focus on customer service, BOPIS and curbside. Relatedly, leveraging apps and mobile sites to facilitate more of the curbside and BOPIS experiences would also mean shoppers are spending less time waiting for associates who are busy helping with these services. Returns, whether from gift-based purchases or not, significantly slow down associates’ availability during such a crucial time, when busyness is already a given and when too much of the process depends on employees.”
Prediction 3: Experiential Moments will Create Delight Despite In-Store Shopping Stressors
Jack Stratten, Senior Trends Consultant, Insider Trends: “Experiential retail can help time-poor customers to achieve more in a single location, giving them a reason to visit and to stay longer. In-store makeover, hairdressing and manicure services are great examples of this. Café and restaurant experiences help meet basic human needs while elevating a visit to the shops into a day out. Retailers may want to consider having regular in-store pop-ups and experiences in the months leading up to the holidays.
Last year Google found that 31% of U.S. shoppers had already started their holiday shopping by June. High cost-of-living pressures are likely to continue the trend of spreading spending out over a longer period, so an ongoing program of experiences can help tap into that.”
Prediction 4: Inflation Won’t Be the Grinch This Holiday Season
Katie Thomas, Lead, and Tanya Moryoussef, Manager, Consumer Practice, Kearney Consumer Institute: “Splurges aside, inflation is definitely a concern among consumers. In a recent Kearney Consumer Institute survey, 31% of consumers said inflation impacts them ‘very much.’ But so far, consumers are focused on the price changes in categories like groceries (88%) and gas (69%). By contrast, only 2% of consumers say they feel the biggest impact in toys, sporting goods and games. That’s good news for holiday toy makers.
And while the impacts of inflation will most likely trickle down to other categories as time goes on, we suspect holiday spending itself will be somewhat insulated from this effect. Consumers are likely to choose to save on everyday items (like dining out or ordering takeout), but they won’t slash their holiday budgets.”
Prediction 5: Holiday 2022 Will Be a True Glimpse of Post-COVID Retail
Hilding Anderson, Head of Retail Strategy, North America, Publicis Sapient: “This year’s holiday season offers our first glimpse at a true post-COVID retail season. We expect it to outperform expectations with a resilient economy and consumers overcoming headwinds from inflation, high retail sales comps and continued stock market volatility.
One of the key areas to watch this holiday season is consumer behavior. New consumer behaviors that stemmed from the pandemic — particularly omnichannel shopping, curbside and ship-to-home ecommerce sales — are proving to be real and durable even as COVID restrictions have eased. Retailers will need to position their business for the holiday season by continuing to invest in digital transformation enabled by experience, engineering talent and customer data.”
Download a copy of our 2022 Holiday Outlook Guide to get perspectives from more experts, including Greg Buzek of IHL Services, Claire Tassin of Morning Consult and Rick Watson of RMW Commerce Consulting! Dig into their predictions and start putting your seasonal plan in place!