Episode 13: Lessons Learned from the Holiday Season

Announcer: Welcome to this episode of “60-second Retail” - a BDO podcast keeping you in-the-know on events and trends in retail and consumer products industry impacting your bottom line, in just a few short minutes.

Natalie: Hello, my name is Natalie Kotlyar. I am the National Leader of the Retail and Consumer Products industry group at BDO USA.  In this episode I would like to cover some of the lessons learned from the Holiday Season.

To say the least, the 2020 holiday season was a unique experience for both retailers and shoppers.

For starters, changes in consumer spending habits prompted by the pandemic forced retailers to improve e-commerce platforms to account for an increase in online shopping.

For in-store operations, retailers prioritized the safety and health of their customers and employees by implementing safety measures such as limiting capacity, requiring use of hand sanitizer upon entering the store, temperature taking and redesigning store layout to encourage social distancing.

While no one hopes to have to embark on another COVID-stricken holiday season, retailers came away with several lessons to apply in the future:

First, some offered earlier and extended sale periods to help lessen the physical crowds on Black Friday, which allowed for a longer than usual sales period throughout the holiday season. And while promotions came early, for many overall sales did not suffer.

Second, the extended holiday shopping season helped retailers by giving them more time to prepare and ship items, resulting in fewer shipping delays in December.  As we all know there was an unprecedented volume of shipping this holiday season, further exasperated by shipments of the COVID vaccine.

As a result Black Friday, typically being the largest shopping day of the year, will no longer be looked at as a one-day event or just as an in-person experience.

Black Friday e-commerce sales jumped 22% compared to 2019, hitting sales of $9 billion dollars for the day.

Cyber Monday was also extremely successful, bringing in $10.8 billion dollars in revenue and being coined as the largest online shopping day in history.

Third, retailers learned the benefit of offering shopping-by-appointment or curbside pickup and delivery. Although these trends became largely used because of the pandemic, they likely will carry through to future holiday seasons because of the convenience factor.

Lastly, retailers also recognized the importance of making online shopping sites and apps user- and mobile-friendly, and added expedited payment options like Amazon Pay, Apple Pay or PayPal to help streamline the payment process.

Many retailers also saw the value in offering flexible payment options, such as paying in installments rather than one large payment.  We cover more on this topic in an upcoming episode of our podcast.

In summary, ensuring a safe consumer shopping experience was a #1 priority for retailers as they adjusted to changes in consumer habits because of the pandemic, but it would not be surprising to see many of these operational modifications carry through beyond the holiday seasons.

Announcer: And that concludes this episode of BDO’s “60-second Retail” podcast.  Don’t forget to tune in for the next episode!  To find more information on our hosts, guests, BDO’s services, or listen to previous episodes of “60-second Retail”, please visit www.bdo.com/60-second-retail.



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