What Will the Holiday Shopping Season Look Like This Year?

    How the pandemic will change Black Friday and Cyber Monday

    Black Friday typically means mayhem in stores with crowds of people rushing to stores after their turkey on Thanksgiving to snag the latest deals for the holidays.

    But the COVID-19 pandemic has changed nearly everything about traditions this year.

    Gone are the trunks full of shopping bags.

    “There will be more boxes showing up at the front door,” said Chris Feuell, Chief Marketing Officer for Honeywell Intelligrated.

    Here’s what to expect:

    In stores

    What’s it going to be like to shop in stores?

    “It’s going to be quiet,” said Karen Bomber, retail technology expert with more than 20 years in the industry.

    Social distancing measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 will bring about the safety protocols that people expect. Occupancy limits will require retailers to reduce the number of people allowed inside.

    Meanwhile, as has become the norm, shoppers will be required to wear masks and acrylic will be present at checkouts.

    It could take longer for people to go through checkouts where cashiers must wipe down card readers and stations between sales, Karen said.

    Behind-the-scenes some stores will use space that would typically hold stock as a micro-fulfillment center, Chris said. That will help expedite online orders by storing popular items near consumers.


    Cyber Monday will be more like Cyber Month.

    Retailers have already launched holiday shopping deals online and will stretch them throughout the months of November and December.

    This year, 60% of consumers plan to make their holiday shopping purchases online, up from 56% in 2019, according to the National Retail Federation.

    Another big trend that became more popular during the pandemic and will continue into holiday shopping is buying products online and picking up in stores (also known as Click and Collect).  

    Click and Collect will increase by 60% in 2020, Chris said. Initially, consumers had to shop that way to get the products they wanted so they could be safe, Chris said.

    “Now, it’s setting a new normal for ecommerce behavior.”

    Hot items

    Electronics will be in high demand this year. Anything digital or virtual that aids in remote work or entertainment has accelerated during the pandemic, Karen said.

    There will be a demand for electronics that make life easier – like noise canceling earbuds.  

    Toys will also see a surge. Children are staying inside more to observe social distancing so parents will invest in toys that can keep them entertained.

    So what’s out? Apparel and footwear.

    Even gift cards could be faux pas as people don’t want to have to go out and shop with gift cards when they are staying home because of the pandemic.

    “No one wants a gift card now,” Karen said. “They want a thing.”