Holiday shopping in the age of COVID-19

January 12, 2021


Graphic by Angelina Guhl

This year, unique holiday shopping trends were tested as people evaded in-person shopping in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The holiday season is notably one of the busiest times of the year, with shoppers normally turning out in droves in stores and shopping malls. However, this year, holiday shopping trends are being tested as people evade in-person shopping in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

According to Adobe Analytics, holiday shopping was predicted to incorporate two years of e-commerce growth into the 2020 holiday season. Retailers and consumers prepared for the holiday season earlier than ever for safety and financial purposes. Of more than 1,000 U.S. adult internet users, 33 percent said they planned to shop early for the holidays, in a survey conducted in Sept. 2020 by Coresight Research.

“Since I started seeing holiday shopping ads even before Thanksgiving started, I’m assuming that’s because they want to spread out the crowd of people expected in the regular holiday season,” freshman Aparna Ganesh said.

E-commerce has also expanded substantially in recent years, with increased convenience and ease of finding and purchasing products. Several businesses this season have changed to or affixed online platforms to their establishments in order to reach a wider consumer base for the holidays.

“I do see that e-commerce businesses are benefiting a lot more now,” Ganesh said. “As for other businesses that were not primarily online, I felt like I’ve seen an effort to improve their online business or make their online shopping more appealing to customers.”

However, increased online shopping has both its benefits and drawbacks when it comes to the success of organizations, economic patterns, and consumer behavior. With businesses across the globe currently forced to temporarily close and even recede into bankruptcy, the pandemic may have permanently altered consumerism as a whole.

There has also been a change in what businesses people have begun to frequent more. For example, advocates pushed for small businesses to be at the forefront of the industry this holiday season during the pandemic.

As for products, many Americans have shifted to spending on practical and convenient products as gifts for the holiday season. Given that family get-togethers are now limited to online gatherings and limited groups, gift exchanges have further seen an immense reduction, compared to an increase in home deliveries of more compact items.  

This year, rather than spend on excursions such as holiday vacations, many people are focusing on other areas that ensure their safety.  “I think for us we mainly bought things that we could enjoy at home… to make the holidays a bit more fun staying at home,” Ganesh said.


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