How will customers shop during this holiday season?

November 2, 2022

Girl using laptop

What will sales look like for the 2022 holiday season? It's a question that’s relevant for many advertisers this year; specifically, how will customers actually shop this year?

How many customers will shop in-person for the holidays?

In 2020, online shopping surged while many people stayed in their homes, with online retail sales increasing 30%.1 This trend continued into 2021: A survey of 2,200 adult shoppers in the US showed that 48% report spending more money online than usual since the start of the pandemic.2

However, shoppers have been returning to physical stores. In the first half of 2021, foot traffic and in-person visits to retail, restaurants, and entertainment locations increased by 44%.3

And shoppers are planning to start early: In a 2021 Amazon Advertising/Kantar survey, 39% of US customers and 42% of UK customers surveyed said they start holiday shopping as early as October.4 So it’s never too early to start thinking of how to optimize your ad campaigns for holiday shoppers.

Embrace the omnichannel shopping experience

It is likely that no matter the way customers shop this year, either online or in-store, both options are important for advertisers to use to their advantage to reach customers. To set themselves up for success, businesses should consider how to reach their audiences both digitally and in the physical store by embracing omnichannel marketing.

That doesn’t mean you need to radically change your marketing, though. The best customer-centric marketing already recognizes the omnichannel shopping experience: Audiences interact with brands both on- and offline during their purchase journey, and effective marketing meets customers' needs across different channels.

The mix of online and offline touchpoints can be varied, such as learning about a product on a website but going to stores to see or hold that product in person; finding a product in the physical store and looking it up online to explore customer reviews; or viewing an online ad for a product that makes it top of mind when browsing in the physical store.

To meet the needs of shoppers, businesses should recognize the importance of the entire purchase funnel and not only focus on the sale. Brand awareness and consideration are key steps in the process, and brands can help shoppers that choose to shop online, discover new brands, as well as provide opportunities for remarketing. We recommend driving awareness and consideration as part of your holiday advertising strategy.

The holiday shopping experience will likely be a hybrid, with some consumers choosing to shop in physical stores, some shopping in online stores, and some combining both during their purchase journey. Businesses should remain versatile and take a customer-centric, omnichannel approach to best reach and engage shoppers.

1 Forrester 2021 Online U.S. Retail Forecast
2 Morning Consult, Tracking the Return to Normal, September 2021, US
3 Zenreach, National Customer Foot Traffic Report, June 2021, US
4 Kantar Quickfire survey, US. 500 participants who have shopped during the Q4 2019/2020 holiday season and plan to do so in 2021.