It’s Amazon Prime Day and Big Billion Days week — a fitting time to kick off Holiday 2020 and Forrester’s annual holiday prep blog series. In the coming weeks, watch for Forrester analyst expert insights about everything from marketing, podcast advertising, and smart post-purchase notifications to US holiday forecast scenarios, “11/11” event analysis, thwarting “grinchy” bots — and much more.

As retailers and brand manufacturers gird themselves for what promises to be an extended season, this series will summarize key points to help them plan and execute most effectively. Overall, we see that brands and retailers this year must manage the following:

  1. An earlier-than-usual start to the holidays. Globally, retailers are getting shoppers ready for festive season shopping: This summer, CEOs such as Kohl’s Michelle Gass and Macy’s Jeff Gennette discussed “elongated shopping” and “anticipated early holiday demand,” while UK department store John Lewis launched its vaunted Christmas Shop in late August. And this week’s “deals” hoopla is even bigger, with Target, Walmart, and other retailers offering competing specials as consumers shop online. In the coming weeks, remember to also reach out to your customers when the marketing din isn’t as loud — they’re more likely to be open to (and will see) your messages.
  2. Mixed economic indicators shaping customer shopping decisions. In the US, stimulus benefits ended on July 31, but Americans’ savings rate in August was 14.1%, up from approximately 8% for most of 2019. US national unemployment was 7.9% as of September — though that’s still up significantly from 3.5% in March. And as of late August, initial jobless claims have (so far) fallen below 1 million each week (if still about four times the number in early March). This mix of improving but still sobering indicators suggests that your customers will be looking early for special values, gift suggestions for many budgets, and services such as pay over time.
  3. Store cleanliness and convenience as paramount priorities. As pandemic management continues, COVID-wary shoppers could well push online holiday sales higher than in the past (more specifics on that in a post soon). But stores are still important for holiday shopping also. Where to focus: As of May, over half of US online adults said they will only visit stores that are thoroughly cleaned nightly and that require customers and associates to wear personal protective equipment (e.g., masks).(1) Additionally, one in five US online adults are worried about going into stores during the holiday season because of crowds.(2) And make sure your in-store stock levels are accurate and visible online (both in web and mobile): 48% of US online adults look for information about product availability before they buy offline, and 33% are simply less likely to visit a store at all if its in-store inventory is not available online.(3)

Stay tuned for our upcoming holiday prep advice, and please schedule inquiries with Forrester analysts for more about holiday strategies and tactics in the midst of COVID-19. Wishing you the very best for this holiday season.


  1. Forrester Analytics Consumer Technographics® COVID-19 Survey (Wave 2).
  2. Forrester’s August 2020 US COVID-19 Retail Consumer Survey.
  3. Forrester Analytics Consumer Technographics US Retail Recontact Survey, 2020.