Fiona Swerdlow, VP and Research Director

Show Notes:

Last year’s chaotic holiday season brought, to put it lightly, challenges. But there was good news, too: Total US retail sales during the holiday season grew a record 8.3% year over year. With so many unknowns, will that good fortune last another year? VP and Research Director Fiona Swerdlow joins this episode to explain what retailers need to do to ensure the upcoming season is a success.

This year’s holiday season will be the Great Unknown, Part Two, as the Delta variant and staffing shortages (spurred in part by what some are calling The Great Reassessment) leave retailers with more questions than answers. And a lot is at stake this season: Preliminary consumer sentiment data collected by Forrester indicates that one in four US online adults and one in five UK online adults plan to spend more this year, while half of adults in both countries expect to spend the same.

Swerdlow says two critical factors will influence this season: tech stacks and value-based messaging. Many businesses were saved by their order management systems during the pandemic’s onset. Infrastructure like this will continue to be important, especially as supply chain crunches aren’t going away anytime soon.

Meanwhile, even before the pandemic, consumers were increasingly buying in line with their values. The public health crisis has accelerated this desire. More and more consumers want to know that their purchases are helping their community and the world. Brands need to double down on environmental, social, and governance work and make that information accessible through multiple channels.

Above all, stay flexible. Pandemic conditions will continue to shift over the coming months and will vary region by region. Keep your ear to the ground and your nose to the grindstone as the holiday season kicks off.