My photo app recently reminded me of Thanksgiving 2020 which featured only my immediate family. Kept apart by pandemic-driven constraints, we made the most of a holiday about togetherness, but my emotional response was to go bigger and better this year given my new-found appreciation for family. Holidays have always been a chance to go over the top, and this year might just take that to another level entirely. My kids’ candy buckets after Halloween certainly suggest this to be the case. 

How will this play out for shoppers and the retailers and manufacturers that serve them? In-store festive environments present a powerful opportunity for impulse shopping, but e-commerce and digital shopping play an important role in minimizing some common pain points in our omnichannel shopping experience. 

Tis the season for impulse buying.

Holiday departments within brick-and-mortar retailers create a unique merchandizing opportunity.  Shoppers often enter without knowing exactly what they will find, and the spirit of discovery and openness to be inspired creates a dream situation for impulse buying. In these areas, mission and mindset are often similar across shoppers, so diverse categories can be combined into a hyper-condensed footprint of festive enticements. Elevating the senses in these departments by utilizing signage, shippers, scents, and manufacturer packaging further heighten the seasonal energy and inspire purchase.

But it doesn’t come without its pain points.

We’ve studied sweet treat shopping across seasons and learned that although impulse plays a role, there are also functional needs for planned purchases and specific needs.  For these items, efficiency and price/value play important roles and could present challenges to shoppers this year leading to some grinch-worthy grumbling. Pent-up demand mixed with lingering supply chain and retail staffing issues will lead to more out-of-stocks than normal.  Inflating prices can drive more desire to seek-out the best deals for these required options. 

There is good news, though. 

The new omnichannel shopping ecosystem solves many of these challenges.  Shoppers can choose to order planned purchases online or check inventory prior to heading to their store solving out of stock concerns.  They can seamlessly compare prices across stores.

Retailers and manufacturers have the most to gain from leveraging the spirit of festive discovery found in physical stores, so the most profitable strategy is to find ways to ensure shoppers have incentive to swing through the holiday section, even if they are solving some grinchy pain points of the planned purchases through other means.

For myself, I am excited to see photos from these holiday celebrations and rejoicing in how good it feels to be together.  It will definitely be a little over the top, and I trust there will be smiles due to efficiently buying the obligatory roast beast with some impulse Who pudding.  

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