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How COVID-19 Has Impacted Holiday Shopping and What That Means for Your Advertising

By: Cody Albright    October 28, 2020

The holidays have historically been a time when customers flock to major retail stores with the hopes of snagging the new must-have items at deeply discounted rates. Images of early mornings, long lines and crowds of people may also come to mind when one thinks of “holiday shopping”; however, as with many other things in 2020, the upcoming holiday season is sure to be different than what we’re used to.

Given the statement from the CDC that “going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving” has a high risk of spreading the virus, retailers like Walmart and Lowe’s® (just to name a couple) are moving more deals online instead of in-store. Not only are the highly sought after deals available online, but they’re also being offered for a longer period to allow for a more leisurely shopping experience, compared to previous holiday seasons.

So, what do these changes mean for businesses looking to promote their own holiday deals?

A main takeaway is that the holidays are not canceled – we’re just changing how we prepare for them. Customers are still going to be searching online for terms like “Black Friday deals” and visiting websites to see what promotions are going on. This interest will just be more spread out. Sales increases in the days after Thanksgiving and leading up to Christmas probably won’t be the peaks and valleys we’ve seen in the past; rather, a more constant/even lift in sales in both November and December should be expected.

From a media standpoint, CPMs should be more stable and placements more available. Overall efficiencies will benefit from fewer businesses vying for customer attention during a shortened promotion window. Campaigns can run for weeks rather than days, thus taking advantage of the ever-increasing advances in AI learning and optimizations. Ad dollars can now be used to reach more people, more times, and at better rates.

These changes help businesses get that much-needed revenue boost while also giving customers a safe and workable solution for their holiday shopping.