The 2020 holiday season is fast approaching, and this year, brands, retailers and consumers are preparing for major changes related to holiday celebrations, spending and gifting, according to “The 2020 Challenge: Keeping Spirits Bright This Holiday Season,” a new report by Advantage Sales, a division of Advantage Solutions.

Nearly nine in 10 consumers cited that COVID-19 has impacted their holiday plans, according to the report, which is based on the responses of 1,027 adults, each of whom typically participates in at least one of the major winter holidays, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Participant responses were fielded between September 16 and September 22, 2020 by Advantage Sales’ SMARTeam.

“Communities across the nation are seeing a holiday season like never before,” said Kimberly Senter, executive vice president, analytics, insights and intelligence at Advantage Sales. “As the winter holidays are projected to be impacted by changes in consumer demand and sentiment, Advantage’s research outlines where retailers and brands can find new ways to bring the holiday spirit to Americans who are, more than ever, craving connection.”

Holiday Plans Change Due to Financial Constraints

Consumers are planning to turn to e-commerce alternatives for holiday shopping vs. brick-and-mortar locations as concerns over safety and economic stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic affect holiday spending plans. Nearly four in 10 households said their finances were worse because of the pandemic, and of this group, 30% plan to buy cheaper brands, compared to 21% of the total respondents.

While 35% of consumers expect to attend fewer celebrations overall this year, households that have been financially impacted by the pandemic show outsized declines in holiday participation with an outlook generally more negative than the average. Overall, Thanksgiving is projected to experience the steepest decline in participation, with a roughly 30-percentage-point drop. Thanksgiving, coupled with New Year’s Eve (27-point decrease), Christmas (23-point decrease) and Black Friday (18-point decrease), total the top four hardest-hit holidays amid the 2020 season.

Reinventing Smaller Gatherings

For consumers who are planning to celebrate the holidays, 40% are planning to attend smaller, more intimate gatherings. This change in gatherings signals the need for brands to adjust to people buying smaller-sized holiday dishes with a range of traditional and nontraditional foods. Prepared meal kits, smaller turkey and ham meals, and personal-size pies and desserts should be in high demand throughout the season.

Digital Shopping to Rise in 2020

More holiday shopping is expected to shift online this year as curbside pickup and at-home delivery of groceries are likely to see a large increase in popularity. In addition, more than half of consumers (52%) plan to shop for gifts at more online stores, with digital gifting, such as gift cards, expected to be a safe replacement for physical presents. Many respondents are avoiding giving experiential gifts, while others will be looking to stretch their dollars — and provide activities for people spending more time at home — with gifts for the whole family rather than individuals. Among gift givers, nearly half of respondents plan to spend between $100 and $499. One-third of shoppers state they will have a smaller gift-giving budget this year.

Among the report’s findings:

  • 42% plan to order more of their non-food groceries online compared to last year
  • 40% will continue to shop in person at brick-and-mortar locations for last-minute grocery needs
  • 35% plan to order more of their food groceries online compared to last year
  • 52% of respondents stated they expect there to be shortages of some grocery items before the end of 2020

Download “The 2020 Challenge: Keeping Spirits Bright This Holiday Season” and other reports at advantagesolutions.net/newsroom.

About Advantage Sales

Advantage Sales, a division of Advantage Solutions, is a leading sales agency and business solutions provider in the retail and consumer goods industry. Advantage Sales offers a full range of services — including headquarter sales services; analytics, insights and intelligence; retail services; business process outsourcing and in-store media — that create value for clients by helping them grow sales, reduce costs and quickly execute go-to-market strategies. Our solutions drive growth for clients by maximizing the availability of their brands across retail, foodservice and online channels and by optimizing how they are priced, positioned and promoted. Visit advantagesales.net to learn more.

About Advantage Solutions

Advantage Solutions is a leading business solutions provider committed to driving growth for consumer goods manufacturers and retailers through winning insights and execution. Advantage’s data and technology-enabled omnichannel solutions — including sales, retail merchandising, business intelligence, digital commerce and a full suite of marketing services — help brands and retailers across a broad range of channels drive consumer demand, increase sales and achieve operating efficiencies. Headquartered in Irvine, California, Advantage has offices throughout North America and a presence in select markets throughout Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe through which it services the global needs of multinational, regional and local manufacturers. For more information, please visit advantagesolutions.net.

Media ContactAdvantage SolutionsWill MintonVice President, Corporate Marketing949-797-3105will.minton@advantagesolutions.net

Prosek Partners on behalf of Advantage SolutionsAlexa OttensteinAssociate Vice President646-818-9051aottenstein@prosek.com