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Christmas 2020 saw a huge increase in online purchases compared to previous years. Now, with stores reopen for Christmas 2021, how will shoppers choose to buy their favourite festive items?

Throughout the lockdown changes, backtracks and economic uncertainty of last year, shoppers' keenness for festive spending remained. Online sales rose 56% compared to Christmas 2019* as consumers bought their gifts and decorations earlier than ever before.** Predictably, though, the high street struggled. Bricks and mortar retailers suffered an average fall in sales of 12.7% over the six weeks of Christmas.* 

But the Covid-19 situation is improving. At the time of writing, around 2 in 3 adults have been fully vaccinated. So, with stores open in the run up to Christmas, will shoppers choose bricks or clicks? And what trends should retailers be looking out for?

As one of our Customer Insight Managers, Katherine Newton is privy to some of our largest customers' early Christmas expectations. "We definitely need to keep close to our customers this peak," She tells us. "We expect online sales to be as high as they were last year, if not higher." 

DHL are already preparing for Christmas 2021, with a new London site and more collection drivers. So how should you be preparing for the Christmas 2021 trends?

Sustainability grew in 2020, but will shoppers want a green Christmas 2021?

65% of 18-24 year olds stated they would be purchasing sustainable gifts for Christmas in 2020.†† This meant that brands had to respond with their own sustainable agenda.^

Sustainable buying habits are set to define Christmas 2021 in the same way they did last year. 73% of consumers have said they want to be more sustainable in 2021,^^ so retailers should similarly be looking towards a greener future too. 

Mobile Commerce will still have a ring to it

In 2020, mobile commerce grew by 30%.¶¶ Covid-19 was a huge catalyst for this. Reports state that by the end of 2021, global mobile commerce sales will hit $3.65 trillionº and 73% of consumers in the UK are now omnichannel mobile shoppers.º 

Mobile commerce is all about speed and ease. Providing next day delivery, stress-free returns, and comprehensive tracking are all important ways retailers can prepare for heightened shopper demand. 

Rise of the 'Silver Surfers'

Many older shoppers were nervous to visit their favourite stores even when they were open. This meant a remarkable surge in online sales amongst this demographic. Over 65s spent 49% more on the web in 2020 than in previous years.§

If retailers want to keep their elderly shoppers buying online again for Christmas 2021, they should look to make their online buying and returning experience as flexible and convenient as possible.

Supporting local, online and in-store

Sales in small food stores rose nearly 10% in December 2020 alone.ºº What began as travel anxiety, soon developed into an overwhelming national desire to buy locally. Potters Cookshop, one of our clients, told us, they received "fantastic support from (their) customers," in part because of their local following. 

Potters Cookshop also made the most of their Click and Collect service during the pandemic. Despite the propulsion of e-commerce, this is still an area that their owner Clive Potter says will remain important this Christmas - "We expect to do well on Click and Collect." 

Click and Collect sales, per latest estimates, will sustain their double-digit growth rates right through to 2024.ª These sorts of omnichannel sales drive traffic online and footfall into stores. Clive believes that it's this duality that provides "a great service to customers."

Upping the amount of locations customers can click & collect their orders from, as well as providing as much delivery and collection choice as possible will continue to be a great way to capitalise on sales.

Using these trends to increase your sales

The short answer to 'bricks or clicks?' is, actually - bricks and clicks. It's highly likely that consumers will want the best of both worlds; the convenience of online ordering and the experiential benefits of in-store. 

If you're an online retailer wanting to offer a convenient click & collect option this Christmas, DHL ServicePoints are located all around the country, open longer hours, and allow shoppers to pick up orders at their convenience. 

There are also DHL's 'Change It' options; giving shoppers the complete flexibility that they'll be demanding from their mobile and internet shopping this festive period. 

Our new SHIP solution is our most exciting new benefit. As a universal shipping platform, it provides complete visibility of your domestic and international shipments via an easy to use and customisable dashboard. You can even create 'monitor lists' for those all important Christmas items.

If Christmas 2020 taught everybody one thing, it's to prepare for the unexpected. DHL's size and people make adapting to your business' needs simple. As Clive Potter said - "Would I recommend DHL? Yes!"

^'Meet the 2020 consumers driving change', Research Insights 2020, by Karl Haller, Jim Lee and Jane Cheung
NPD Group


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