2021 US Holiday Insights 2020 Key Holiday Trends to Inform 2021 Planning
Will we see the world revert back to pre-pandemic holiday behaviors? Or are the shifts we saw in a locked down world likely to remain?
We captured holiday shoppers in the right mindset, focusing on:
Consumer Buying and Timing Trends
2020 holiday e-commerce accelerated Brick-and-mortar buying was more limited, so buyers embraced digital
Digital holiday buyers started early How COVID has affected holiday shopping search trends
When looking back at 2019 pre-pandemic holiday shoppers, search interest began ramping up in late September and early October but with clear peaks in early and late December, highlighting that while there were some early shoppers, there was still a strong mid and late-season shopper.
Comparatively, 2020 saw a more gradual ramp up to December and a sharp decline, as more consumers needed to plan ahead for contactless delivery rather than purchasing and gifting in person. With USPS announcing they will slow delivery time by about 30%, this trend is likely to continue2.
Different audiences for each shopping period Reach different buyers based on their purchase timeframes
Connected devices surge Reach consumers where they spend the most time
But where did consumers spend the majority of their digital time in November and December?
Quantcast saw usage of connected devices, such as smart TVs and game consoles, increase in late November and continue to grow throughout the holiday season. Newly activated devices that had been purchased for home entertainment and holiday gift giving is a possible contributing factor to this growth.
Quantcast also found that mobile and desktop usage were inversely related, highlighting that early and peak shoppers are consistent across platforms, but that last minute shoppers are more likely to be captured on their mobile devices.
Vertical Performance Trends
Holiday buyers skew older, more educated, and affluent Holiday vs. Non-Holiday Converters
Vertical standouts in each segment drive these trends Holiday vs. Non-Holiday Converters
2020 saw a hopeful holiday reveler Travel and restaurants saw substantial Q3 to Q4 surges
Holiday 2020 saw some reopening, and consumers were eager to get back out in the world. Comparing the pre-holiday period (August 17 – September 20, 2020) to the holidays (November 30, 2020 – January 3, 2021), we saw a substantial surge in travel and restaurant conversions. Media entertainment, such as sporting events and theater, were unsurprisingly down.
The growths in these verticals can be attributed to consumers purchasing gifts, planning vacations as COVID restrictions loosened, and spending more time with family and friends during the holidays.
Conversions with key seasonal standout dates Understanding surges in behavior over time
Zooming out and looking at conversion volume starting in mid-August, we can see that there were two surges for travel–the first in late September and the second as part of the holiday wave in late November. Travelers were clearly more open to visiting family or taking vacations to make their 2020 holiday a bit more special. Interestingly, restaurants saw a decrease on both Thanksgiving and Christmas, showing that while people ate out with family in the days prior, that home cooking still reigned supreme for the day of festivity.
This holiday season, with the vaccine now widely available, the desire to travel and eat out is only likely to increase. Advertisers should get in front of tourism prospects early to encourage them to visit their city with awareness messaging.
Deep Dive: DIY Gifters
DIY gifters start their projects early Interest in holiday DIY projects starts after Halloween and peaks by December 1
With 2020 being the year that people explored their baking, crafting, and home gardening talents, we thought it would be interesting to better understand this holiday consumer. According to Etsy, holiday DIY searchers are looking to add their own personal creative flair to their home decorations and seasonal gifts, exploring their newfound crafting skills acquired during COVID lockdowns by searching for ideas, materials, and patterns.2
Quantcast keyword behavior mimics what we should assume: the time-sensitive nature of holiday gifting as well as time requirements for DIY projects mean searchers begin their considerations early in the season.