Holiday Consumer Trends 2020 vs. 2021


Trends are temporary things. That’s the definition of a trend—they stick around for a brief period (sometimes years, admittedly), and ultimately transition or fade out. But trends can be predicted and planned for, usually because they don’t randomly blip in and out of existence. 

Consumer trends can and should determine your advertising strategy for every season. Examining the COVID pandemic is a great place to begin understanding existing trends and predict future trends. This kind of understanding will mean saving, spending, or making hundreds of thousands of dollars for industries and businesses as the holiday season approaches.

We’ll take a closer look at holiday consumer trends from 2020, compare them with what we have experienced in the 2021 season, and likely be able to use the same consumer holiday spending trends for the next season. 

Consumer Holiday Spending Trends 2020

The year 2020 was heavily influenced by the COVID pandemic. You can see evidence of that influence in the following holiday consumer trends of 2020:

Online Shopping

COVID prevented us from doing many things outside the walls of our homes. Restaurants offered only delivery or takeout, movie theaters temporarily shut down, and most of us worked our 9-5 jobs from the comfort (and eventual discomfort) of our couches. With social distancing in full swing, online shopping was the thing for the 2020 holiday season. 

The Gift of Things

The year 2020 saw a spike in certain types of gifts. In particular, people invested their hard-earned paychecks on electronics, video games, and apparel as they worked from home. It makes sense that more things than experiences would be purchased since travel was also off the table for most of 2020. 

Earlier Shopping Window

People had a lot of time on their hands during 2020—more than they knew what to do with. Because of this, the shopping window for the holiday season started much earlier than the typical kick-off of Thanksgiving’s Black Friday, and lasted longer than in years past.

Curbside and In-Store Pickup

Social distancing is also to blame (or thank?) for the upswing in curbside and in-store pickups. The most convenient way to get our purchases is to have them shipped. But when there were no shipping options, consumers stuck to social distancing safety techniques of curbside pickup or a quick walk into and out of the store. 

Consumer Trends 2021

As we wrap up the 2021 holiday shopping season, we’ve looked closely at the trends experienced this year. Some of them have carried over from 2020, and some are projected to stick around into 2022. 

Revenge Spending and Shopping

People are spending exorbitant amounts of money on luxurious items with the attitude that they went a long time without splurging on something nice. People got tired of living frugally and spending frugally in 2020. There was a big increase in revenge spending and shopping in 2021. 

Global Supply Chain Issues Sparking Shopping Panic

In the past year or so, there have been some difficulties with the global supply chain, sparking bursts of shopping panic in consumers who fear they won’t get the products they want. 

Less Care for COVID

Many consumers are tired of  COVID restrictions. This has markedly resulted in more in-store shopping and revenge shopping. 

Experiences or Things

Surprisingly, with countries slowly opening up their borders in the past year, the average consumer is still not investing their funds into experiences. Rather, spending is still rooted in things—particularly, electronics, clothes, makeup, and jewelry. 

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