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November 5, 2020

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The holiday season is fast approaching, and what’s normally the most wonderful time of the year for retailers is considerably more complicated and unpredictable this year.

CBRE just put out a report on holiday retail trends, offering insights into what lies ahead in a holiday season marked by economic headwinds and a global pandemic.

Here are some takeaways:

Slower brick-and-mortar sales

Consumers are balancing weaker economic conditions and safety concerns with the excitement of gift-giving. Expect shoppers to be more selective and prioritize spending on gifts for immediate family. Top sellers are expected to be value and luxury lounge & athleisure wear, beauty, home furnishings & décor, tools, appliances, cooking & kitchen equipment, streaming and subscription services and at-home entertainment, gaming and fitness.

Longer shopping season

While the safety and convenience of shoppers and employees are the top priority, retailers and mall owners are going to make up for lost sales opportunities by lengthening the holiday shopping season. Consumers will shop earlier and more selectively to avoid crowds and limit anxiety over in-store shopping, product scarcity, shipping costs and delivery timeframes for online orders.

Second surge in e-commerce sales

The one certainty this holiday season is the continued meteoric rise in e-commerce sales, with a second surge in online spending this year expected in Q4. CBRE Retail Research forecasts 2020 holiday e-commerce sales to more than double to at least 40% of overall shopping, putting e-commerce’s share of total retail sales in November and December at 39%.

Balancing safety and experience

Shopping in 2019 was defined by high-touch, interactivity and product engagement. Bricks-and-mortar retail in 2020 will emphasize health, safety and efficiency. Retailers are reimagining the holiday store experience to make customers feel comfortable and safe in the COVID-19 era. This is especially true for small businesses, many of which do not have an e-commerce platform and rely on foot traffic.

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