Across all channels, Deloitte is forecasting a strong holiday season for retailers this year and, overall, predicts retail sales to increase 7 to 9 percent with e-commerce holiday sales projected to grow 11 percent to 15 percent, compared to last year.
Additionally, Deloitte’s retail and distribution practice expect that holiday sales will total $1.28 trillion to $1.3 trillion between November and January. And e-commerce sales alone will likely reach between $210 billion and $218 billion this season.
“Across channels, retailers should expect a strong holiday season as consumer spending levels are projected to remain high,” said Rod Sides, vice chairman at Deloitte LLP and U.S. retail and distribution sector leader. “While consumer concerns about health and safety have eased since the last holiday season, pandemic-influenced shopping behaviors continue to gain traction. Retailers who remain resilient to shifting consumer behaviors and offer convenient options for online and in-store shopping, as well as order fulfillment, will be poised for growth this holiday season, and into the new year.”
Further, according to Sides, as momentum in recovery continues consumers will be looking to spend in more categories than last year. In part, this is due to rebounds in travel and renewed comfort for in-person experiences.
“We saw people pare back their holiday travel dramatically,” Sides said of the 2020 holiday season. “And we actually saw a number of officials encouraging you to stay home not travel to be able to be with families. This year, the seating capacity on airlines is filling back up so we think that’s also going to drive spending up. And in terms of travel-related activities in the holiday, we see that rebounding pretty dramatically as folks look to get back together with them.”
Notably, in 2020, consumers’ spend was focused on buying physical goods as gifts, for those loved ones they were with and away from, a departure from 2019 experiences were one of the most popular spend categories of the holiday season.
“We still thank that purchasing of presents and goods of that kind will continue to go up, but I think we’re going to find that it’s going to be a lot more balanced than it was last year,” Sides said. “One of the things we’ve talked about is the question of what the big-ticket purchases will be. We did that last year with things like exercise equipment but at some point, when you’ve outfitted your home office and gym over the last 18 months, the chances are you’re not going to repurchase. I think we’ll see toys as pretty strong and there’s a great chance for apparel to come back.”
Sides told WWD that gift cards are also likely to continue to rise in popularity this season as well as the trend in purchasing food and beverage gifts as a way to reconnect with friends and family.
Notably, Sides said consumers have learned during the pandemic that they need to start shopping earlier, having experienced the outcomes of disrupted supply chains and delayed shipping. To that end, Deloitte expects consumers to start shopping earlier than ever this holiday season. At the same time, consumer behaviors such as buy online, pick up in-store, or BOPIS, and curbside pickup are also expected to continue to be strong this holiday shopping season, especially with concern for the Delta variant.