Retail in 2020: Planning As Festive Season Arrives

It's Been A Year Unlike Any Other

There’s been an unforeseen shift in the retail landscape this year. This has been caused by; the rise of D2C (Direct to Consumer) brands, a three-month lockdown which meant a complete shutdown of the high street, and changing consumer behaviour showing rapidly increased time spent online. This blog will focus on the big question brands and businesses are asking: How should we plan for the festive season in light of covid?

We will dive into planning for peak season in terms of search, reach and strategy.

Meeting Demand & New Opportunities

With the acceleration of eCommerce, online retailers have struggled to meet demands, while physical high street shops have had to rise to an unexpected challenge with little warning. But, it’s not all doom and gloom! The challenges faced during 2020 have also enabled brands and their agencies to shift how they operate and ensure they are seizing new opportunities.

The Question On Everyone's Lips

We’ve seen that brands have had to pivot to meet the challenges of recent months, and that digital advertising plays a crucial role in maintaining strong relationships with customers during these difficult times.

So, the big thing that brands and businesses are wondering is: how to plan for the festive season in light of covid.

Consumer Confidence & Consumer Behaviour

Given the pandemic, It’s going to be a different retail peak season to usual years. Covid has had a huge impact on the retail industry, research shows that 10 years of retail growth was wiped out in the space of 1 month. It’s clear that consumer confidence has dipped and people are less likely to make big purchases. This, as expected, massively impacts sales coming through.

However, it’s not all negative! We’ve seen sales dip, but they have rebounded. Although, they haven’t rebounded to what they were before. Despite this, eCommerce Sales have increased and continue to increase which is a positive sign. In terms of consumer behaviour, statistics seem to be fluctuating which makes it hard for us to predict the future for retail.

Search, Reach & Strategy

With more time being spent online, Search is pivotal in customer’s decision journeys. So an important point to consider in the run up to peak Christmas season is maximising Reach. The focus should be on mobile devices, brands need to be adjusting strategies as more consumers interact on mobile / tablet. We need to be using a broad approach to capture new, emerging interest areas, as we’ve seen completely new behaviours emerge during lockdown and the months following.

Specifically on Social Media, brands need to be maximising their content, adapting it for the festive season and changes to consumer behaviour.

Our advice? Make sure you are researching what is on trend, to adhere to consumer needs. What products do you have that cater to the current customer demand? Maximise your content for those products through relevant channels such as Social Media, Blogging, Targeted Ads and Email Marketing. Remember buying journeys are not linear, so beginning the marketing funnel process as early as possible is key.

Looking at Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and What’s App as a collective, research shows that 130 million accounts are tapping on product tags each month. So the consumer interest is there, brands need to maximise their reach and make sure they target the right individuals.

TIP: Let the product find the person, Facebook will know who best to target before you.

Zooming In On Peak Season

Research shows similar peak season growth trends year on year, so can we expect the same trend for this year? Well, it’s not quite as simple as that, from the search figures pulled from Microsoft Advertising, 2020 has seen more clicks compared to previous years, so it’s acceptable to predict forecasted growth. However, it’s important to bear in mind that this will fluctuate if we see changes in covid restrictions, or economic changes happening.


The COVID-19 Pandemic has had a huge impact on retail, it’s clear this extends from ‘Lockdown’ to ‘Longterm’. We have this new heightened awareness around shopping, as businesses, we need to be aware of this new sustainable, eConsumer who’s purchasing priorities have shifted and adopt a slightly different strategy moving into the peak Christmas season.

Do you need advice on how to direct your strategy? Get in touch with us today and a member of our team will be happy to help!