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Chamber Chatter: 10-27-20

While October may seem a little early for most to think about the holiday shopping season, this time represents a critical period for retailers as inventory orders typically need to be placed by now, and strategic thinking completed as to what consumers will be looking for in 2020. But this year obviously presents a much more unique challenge given the persistent influence of COVID-19 on consumer spending and shopping habits, as well as the incredible importance of trying to recoup lost sales from the stop, go, stop roller coaster of government shutdown and reopening guidelines.

Even without COVID, it’s hard to understate the importance of holiday shopping for mom and pop retail. According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales represent about 20 percent of annual retail sales each year, with some retailers like hobby, toy, and games stores totaling 30 percent of sales. Of those sales, online represented nearly 15 percent in 2019.

While none of us has a crystal ball to see into the future, it is most likely that what we are observing today will be the conditions prevalent as the holiday season gets into full swing. As such, there are some competing drivers surrounding holiday shopping on our Main Streets. On one hand, there is a desire to have a traditional holiday shopping experience. On the other hand, there is continued fear around the virus, and consumers have gotten used to—and show an increased preference for—convenient delivery and pick-up options.

Given the data and our previous look at COVID impacts on consumer and economic trends, the 2020 holiday shopping season will look nothing like the traditional experience-driven seasons of the past. As such, retailers AND place managers will need to be even more creative as they seek to attract shoppers back.

Read more to find realistic suggestions on how to prepare for this “new normal” shopping season….

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