By Gina Obert on November 03, 2021

2021 Holiday Season: Predictions and Tips for Retailers

The past couple of years have had a huge impact on the holiday season, no doubt — and this is especially true for retailers like you.

In the US, things haven’t returned entirely back to normal since the coronavirus pandemic, and this means that there will definitely be some noticeable changes to holiday shopping and ordering.

What differences can you expect for the 2021 holiday season, and as a small business, how can you prepare? We’ve got your back.

Surprise — Holiday Shopping Has Already Started

As a retailer, you’ve likely experienced or heard that supply will not be able to keep up with demand this holiday season. Current shipping delays, low stock, and supply chain complications are making consumers nervous, therefore, influencing them to shop for gifts earlier than ever.

According to Global News:

  • 85 percent of toys sold in the US are manufactured overseas, meaning they will be in really short supply this 2021 holiday season
  • Electronics will be extremely hard to get due to the global semiconductor shortage
  • The supply of artificial trees and decor is expected to be 20 to 25 percent lower due to delays from China (making the competition for live trees aggressive)

We’re not throwing these facts out to scare you, but rather, ensure you’re prepared. Media outlets have been sharing this information for the past several weeks, so many consumers have already started crossing gifts off of their holiday shopping lists as best they can.

What does this mean for you? Well, since many shoppers are already out and about, make sure your holiday inventory and promotions are front and center. You don’t want customers to go to your competition because they assume you aren’t ready for the busiest time of year.

Curbside Pickup Isn’t Going Anywhere

While in-store shopping is expected to remain steady, many consumers will still be expecting safe alternatives this holiday season.

The immunocompromised, elderly, and parents with young children will likely opt for curbside pickup to scoop up their purchased gifts. And truthfully, even consumers who don’t fit into one of the aforementioned buckets may have gotten comfortable with this offering. It’s probably here to stay!

Finally, don’t be surprised if both in-store and online shoppers demand free shipping on items they buy. Word on the street is that the courtesy is now an expectation this holiday season.

We know it’s not in every small business’ budget to offer curbside pickup or free shipping, so don’t stretch yourself too thin. This will be a challenging holiday season for everyone as is. However, if you’ve offered one of these perks sometime in the past and they worked well for you, consider bringing them back for the holidays.

Need inspiration on other things you can switch up this holiday season? Snag ideas from our free small business guide!

Digital Shopping is Going to Spike

This trend isn’t new — we’ve all been prepared for the increase in e-commerce holiday shopping year over year. Online shopping will continue to rise this 2021 holiday season.

On the other hand, there is one factor that makes this year a bit different from previous years. The social media shopping trend is on the rise, and it has become easier than ever for consumers to spend money on their favorite apps.

Facebook and Instagram have taken over virtual shopping with business’ shops becoming native to the platforms. Instead of navigating away from these social media apps, users can quickly buy the jacket they’re looking at without any scroll interruption. In just a few taps, they’ve made a purchase with their saved payment method. 

Social media shopping has been a game changer for retailers, so this holiday season, creating a shop on Facebook and Instagram may be worth a try. This is a much easier step for small businesses that already have an e-commerce presence, so don’t take the leap if it’s not the right move for you yet.

Shoppers May be Frustrated and Upset

Unfortunately, disgruntled shoppers are fairly common during the holiday season (ironic, right?), but this year, there may be a lot more stress and frustration than usual.

All of the reasons previously mentioned (shipping delays, low stock, production issues, and even staffing shortages) may mean your customers will be a bit disappointed in hearing any bad news.

There isn’t a ton you can do here, but start by staying informed on what’s going on in the business world. Read up on updates that may directly affect your small business, and keep your staff in the loop — they will have to answer a lot more questions than usual, so make sure they have all of the information they need. 

And of course, train your team on how to deal with difficult customers so they’re not caught off guard. The holiday season can be hectic for everyone involved, so anything you can do to make your staff feel comfortable will go a long way.

The 2021 Holiday Season and Your Small Business

We hope these predictions and tips help you prepare your small business for the 2021 holiday season!

For more insight from our team of industry experts, we recommend downloading our FREE resource: The Retailers’ Guide to Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and the Holiday Season. This guide will help you create enticing deals, stand out against your competitors, and keep the holiday spirit high in all of the chaos.

If you have any questions, or you’re interested in taking our retail point of sale software for a spin, reach out to our team at


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