COVID consumer trends e-commerce

Holiday Shopping Trends 2021


We’re headed into COVID Christmas Number 2. But with vaccination and employment rates on the rise, celebration plans are looking much less austere than they did in 2020—at least for Canada. As restrictions lift, people who’ve been sitting on their cash are ready to open their wallets and indulge.

93% of Canadian households intend to celebrate Christmas this year, whether this means a full spread for the in-laws or a takeout chicken dinner from St. Hubert. There are goodies, gifts, and garlands to buy—and sell. And while many shoppers started crossing off their list in November, at least half of consumers were not so organized. Luckily, they still have three key shopping weeks to get their presents under the tree. Plus, don’t forget Boxing Day Blowouts.

In any case, the glittery season is upon us. And if you’re headed to the malls, or trying to attract last-minute customers, here’s what you need to know about holiday shopping in 2021.

It’s still COVID

Although lockdown is over across Canada, concerns over COVID will still have an impact on how people celebrate.

Fast stats from Numerator’s Holiday Trends Consumer Survey

  • 69% of Canadians plan to gather with friends and family versus 78% in previous years
  • 55% plan to purchase gifts for loved ones versus 66% in previous years
  • 31% plan to make or contribute to a special meal versus 35% in previous years
  • 11% plan to travel versus 20% in previous years.

You’ll be happy to know that food and drink consumption is anticipated to stay within 7% of “normal” years.  Unvaccinated people are slightly more likely to participate in celebrations (especially gifts and gatherings), but the numbers are pretty even across the board. And only 4% of those surveyed don’t intend to celebrate at all. So, a festive month is upon us.

A hybrid sales model—brick-and-mortar + e-commerce

During the throes of COVID, online shopping was a big hit, and the trend has stuck. People are loving a clean and easy Click & Collect system. They do everything they can to save on shipping and many are opting for in-store pickup since this tends to be faster than home delivery. But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t thrilled to get back to shopping in person. According to Think with Google’s consumer insight survey, 49% of consumers claim they’d rather go to stores for their holiday purchases, planning to spend 55% percent of their budget at brick-and-mortar locations.

Due to COVID-related scarcity, the supply chain is down and we’re living in a demand-fuelled economy. Anticipating low inventory, 67% of Canadian consumers report checking for an item online before deciding to go to a store. The hybrid sales model also works the other way. Shoppers can visit a retail outlet to try on an item for size, and then order their preferred colour or model online.

The local diversity train

Both on and off the Internet, Canadians aspire to support local companies, especially those with sustainable, eco-friendly practices. Accenture’s Shopping Report shows that nearly 50% of consumers are looking for low-impact reusable packaging, and 58% have set the goal to buy local in the upcoming year.

Canadian shoppers aspire to buy local. And thank you Megan Bucknall of Unsplash  for this great photo!

Equality and diversity are also major priorities, with 32% of shoppers hoping to support BIPOC-owned businesses. (BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, People of Colour.) That said, mass retailers like Amazon are still likely to cash in this Christmas, taking up to 60% of total sales. (Space expedition 2022, Jeff?) All the more reason for small, local businesses to step up and get their products out there on the web stage. And for consumers to improve their shopping landscape by choosing local as much as they can!

Sales through every season

If you’re a small business owner, Linkeo’s experts can help you maximize the opportunities at every time of year. For the past two decades, we’ve helped companies like yours build their online presence through our stellar websites and renowned Google Ads campaigns. Founded by entrepreneurs—for entrepreneurs, we’re the go-to web agency for small-to-medium-sized businesses. Get in touch.

Seasons Greetings from the Linkeo Team. And thank you Jakob Owens of Unsplash for this adorable photo!

Meanwhile, we wish you a warm and merry December, no matter how you choose to celebrate.

Thank you for reading!

Best wishes,

The Linkeo Team

Kudos to Freestocks from Unsplash for the fun shopping thumbnail image. Thanks so much. We loved it!

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