5 Keys to Unlocking Holiday 2021 Success


As we enter the second holiday shopping season of the COVID-19 pandemic, retailers are having a really hard time predicting and planning for Holiday 2021. Consumer preferences, shopping realities, and state and government lockdowns are almost unpredictable. That’s why Blackhawk Network commissioned our new study, a survey exploring how shoppers feel about holiday shopping, lockdowns, out-of-stock fears, and more.

#1 Give back to charities

Everyone has been hit by the pandemic, but we’ve all been hit in different ways. While many have lost jobs and loved ones, some have simply been bored, worried and frustrated. One way to turn all of that anxiety into action is by supporting good causes. Our research shows that shoppers-especially young people-are very interested in gifts that give back to charity.

#2 Avoid returns and running out of stock

We already knew this, but the research proves it: everyone hates returning bad gifts! Shoppers have a strong desire to avoid being “bad gifters,” and most people get a bad gift at least once a year. Being unable to find a gift because retailers are out of stock is also a major concern for people this year-understandable, as kinks in the global supply chain continue to cause issues.

#3 Gift cards are a universal gifting language

Everyone loves gift cards! Across generations and across the world, people overwhelmingly see gift cards, prepaid cards, and digital gift cards as excellent gifts. To many people, gift cards represent a “safe bet” for hard-to-shop-for friends and family. In fact, gift cards are so popular that they represent nearly half of all holiday gift spending worldwide.

#4 Be prepared for early shoppers

Motivated by a lot of factors-including global logistics problems-many people plan to start holiday shopping earlier this year. Wise retailers should look for a lot of holiday shopping to start as soon as early November. If shelves remain empty and popular items look like they’ll be hard to find, expect more people to join the early birds on a multi-month hunt for the perfect gifts.

#5 Be flexible and prepared to move online

Everyone still has COVID-19 on their minds. Many people are shopping earlier in part to avoid holiday shopping crowds, while others are focusing more of their shopping efforts online to sidestep physical retail spaces altogether. In the event of a large spike in new cases and government-mandated shutdowns, a large portion of our respondents plan to go online to finish gathering gifts.

To learn more about these tips or to see the exact numbers that led us to them, check out our two holiday research ebooks. One focuses on the US market with breakdowns along generational lines, and the other examines thousands of respondents in ten countries to build a picture of the holiday shopping attitudes around the globe.

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