As retailers find themselves mired in the coronavirus, their reality is often based on the sectors they sell in, whether they are virtual or store-based, along with the liquidity of their business. No matter the circumstances, this is the time of year when retailers start to think about their holiday plans and how to prepare for what promises to be an unprecedented holiday season. I wanted to focus on six topics that are certain to be in the forefront of any discussion around the holiday season.

Before we get to the nitty gritty, let’s take a quick look at the numbers during three key holidays as a starting point.

  1. Amazon Prime Day: Digital Commerce 360 estimated 2019 Prime Day sales hit $7.16 billion globally. From a 2020 perspective, Prime Day was initially slated for July 15-16, although it likely won’t take place until August and could run as long as a week given the volume it hopes to achieve. 89% of those surveyed in Digital Commerce 360’s 2019 Prime Day survey were familiar with the holiday and 44% actually made a purchase. Shoppers were evenly split between being item-driven and just browsing for the best deals. Computers and electronics topped the list of categories purchased (41%), while 29% bought apparel/accessories and 23% hardware and home goods.
  2. Back to school: Last year’s initial projections saw back-to-school sales expected to reach $80.7 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. Like many things, the season ahead finds itself in an unusual position. It is unclear how many students will physically return to school. Everything from basic school supplies to dorm room setups may be on hold if the dates are widely postponed. For many of us, it feels like a holding pattern and this may delay our spending.
  3. The holidays: Despite record-breaking online sales during the 5-day shopping period from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, the holidays failed to reach the heights some retailers had projected. Ultimately, U.S. shoppers spent $138.65 billion online last holiday season, up 13.6% from the prior year, according to Digital Commerce 360 estimates.

Digital Commerce 360’s April coronavirus survey of 107 retailers reinforces the uncertainty that lies ahead. Its impact on one’s ecommerce performance numbers shows mixed results and will serve as a starting point for the industry as a whole.

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