But due to the coronavirus pandemic this year, which forced countries around the world to either go into lockdowns or enforce strict social distancing rules, a lot of the holiday shopping is being done online, according to multiple research reports.
One recent report from McKinsey & Company found that 37% of respondents said they intended to spend more online during the holidays this year than they did in 2019. The report, which surveyed 3,500 holiday shoppers in September from the U.S., U.K., China, Germany and France, also found that only 10% said they intended to increase their time in physical stores.
Since the survey was done, U.K. and parts of Europe went into further lockdown as Covid-19 cases surged. Consumers in those countries were likely to return to digital shopping, the firm predicted.
With safety and uncertainty on shoppers’ minds, McKinsey said how shopping is done and what consumers are going to buy are changing.
Data reported by e-commerce firms from several major online shopping events last month already point to more people buying online. Chinese e-commerce giants Alibaba and JD.com set new records by racking up around $115 billion in sales across their shopping websites during the Singles Day event in November. Southeast Asia’s Lazada, which is owned by Alibaba, reported more than $100 million of sales in the first hour of the shopping event, between midnight and 1 a.m. on Nov. 11.
Online spending over Black Friday this year surged nearly 22% to hit a new record of $9 billion while Cyber Monday online sales reached $10.8 billion, the largest U.S. online shopping day ever.
“Traditional retailers are increasing the investment and engagement on online channels as this is something they can’t ignore forever,” Satish Meena, a senior forecast analyst at Forrester, told CNBC. He said while he expects the number of online shoppers to increase next year, retailers are still not yet prepared to deal with the shift.
Experts have predicted that shifts in consumption patterns observed due to the pandemic such as a growing preference to shop online is set to stay even after things become relatively normal. E-commerce growth is expected to continue and at least in Southeast Asia, it is predicted to be the main driver of the region’s internet economy, according to a commonly cited industry report.