Business Insider – Retail – Ecommerce was a clear winner this holiday seasonEstimated Reading Time: just 2 min

As reported on Business Insider – Retail:

US ecommerce sales grew 47.2% annually between November 1 and December 24, according to recent Mastercard SpendingPulse data cited by The Wall Street Journal. Key categories that helped boost sales in the period were furniture and home improvement, which saw sales growth of 16.2% and 14.1% year over year (YoY) between October 11 and December 24, respectively.

us retail and ecommerce holiday season sales

Overall retail sales only grew 2.4% annually between November 1 and December 24, likely hampered by declines in foot traffic as consumers steered away from in-store shopping amid the coronavirus pandemic: In the seven days leading up to December 24, foot traffic was down 31.3% compared with 2019.

Expanded delivery efforts and click-and-collect offerings helped contribute to the ecommerce surge this holiday season, in line with trends seen throughout the pandemic.

Expanded delivery efforts drew in consumers as the December holidays closed in. The late fall months brought an uptick in coronavirus cases, likely pushing consumers further toward ecommerce to avoid in-store environments—similar to what happened in March and April at the onset of the crisis. Amazon delivered a whopping 1.5 billion packages globally throughout the holiday season, for example. To capitalize on the ecommerce demand, retailers like Walmart introduced expanded delivery offerings to induce last-minute spending and maximize overall holiday ecommerce sales, which are projected to bring in $190.47 billion, according to eMarketer forecasts from Insider Intelligence.

Retailers offered click-and-collect activities to provide faster online order fulfillment during the holidays. Curbside pickup and click-and-collect offerings became popular this year as consumers looked to receive their online orders faster: 33% of shoppers say they frequently use click-and-collect, according to a survey by TSG and ETA, for example. Large retailers such as Walmart and Target were able to use their expansive store networks to enable click-and-collect offerings, which likely helped them cash in on the season’s ecommerce surge. Meanwhile, smaller merchants or retailers that didn’t implement these offerings may have missed out: Over half of consumers say they stayed away from local businesses that didn’t offer contactless services such as curbside pickup, according to a survey by Podium.

But the projected influx of holiday returns could be a cause of major pain for retailers in the coming weeks. Returns made on the day after Christmas more than tripled versus the average return day according to digital returns solutions firm Returnly. This reflects projections from the National Retail Federation, which expects 13% of holiday merchandise to be returned in the coming weeks, amounting to about $101 billion worth of goods.

To prevent strain on logistics systems and maintain customer satisfaction, some retailers have already introduced offerings to simplify the returns process: Amazon expanded the number of retail locations where customers can make returns, and Walmart partnered with FedEx to launch a pickup return program. Giving shoppers more flexibility and convenience with online returns can help a retailer boost overall customer satisfaction, which might encourage shoppers to return to the retailer for future purchases thanks to their positive experience.

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Source: Business Insider – Retail
Author: Adriana Nunez
Date: 2020 12 31

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