Holiday Shopping Trends 2020

As the holiday season approaches, we analyzed product trends from the last two years to predict what people will be shopping for amidst a pandemic. This year is sure to be unlike any other.

It’s the second week of November, which means that the holiday season is officially here. November is known for a few things – the US election, Thanksgiving, and Black Friday, among other events. With Black Friday 2020 comes holiday shopping – and that’s what we’re going to dive into today.

While some industry experts have been speculating that Black Friday will be canceled this year, we think otherwise. The Black Friday we’ve known in the past – waiting in long lines early in the morning to get first pick of doorbuster sales or to grab trending electronic deals – will most likely not be the Black Friday that we experience this year. 

In the midst of COVID-19, we can expect stores to close their doors or limit crowds to protect the safety of employees and shoppers. We predict that people will forgo in-store holiday shopping, opting to shop online from the comfort and safety of their own homes. A recent study from Visa reveals that 20% of U.S. consumers plan to do their shopping exclusively in-store, while nearly a third plan to do most of their holiday shopping online. Doorbuster deals and discounting will still be offered online and Black Friday e-commerce sales will likely surpass any of the years past. 

During Black Friday 2019, Fit Finder provided over 1 billion size recommendations to online shoppers. We imagine that number will be much higher this year with the increase in online holiday shopping. Our data suggests that the size recommendations for Black Friday 2020 will be for more comfort wear than formal wear. Rather than purchasing formal dresses for upcoming holiday parties, we predict that people will instead be investing in comfort wear for holidays at home.

Since this holiday season will be unlike anything we’ve experienced before, we analyzed product trends from previous years and compared them to this year to better understand what people will be shopping for this winter. We’ve already seen a significant shift in what people are purchasing during the pandemic. In August, our data showed a 142% increase in conversions for activewear during the pandemic compared to the same period last year. 

Holiday Shopping Product Trends

With this in mind, we aggregated the data from our 300+ partners to see what fashion trends make the hot list and what trends fall flat this holiday season. Based on our research, we are seeing an upward trend for chunky knits, down jackets, flannels, and fleece. In contrast, formal dresses, glitter, sequins, and velvet are on the decline.

Sequins and Formal Dresses Take a Hit

Thinking about the state of the world, it’s really no surprise that typically trending holiday styles, like sequins and formal dresses, are not seeing the same results we’ve witnessed for the past two years. In 2018, sequinned items were a huge hit leading up to the holidays, with month-over-month increases of 16%, 70%, and 11% from October to December respectively. We saw a similar trend for 2019, with increases of 9%, 44%, and 5% from October to December. However, this year sequin purchases are down 6% when compared to the same period last year. 

Holiday Shopping Trends - Formal Dresses

The purchases of formal dresses increased significantly from 2018 to 2019. In September 2019, formal dress purchases increased by 18% when compared to September 2018. October 2019 showed a 192% increase over 2018, while November and December mirrored a similar trend, with increases of 251% and 119% over the previous year. On the other hand, as we approach holiday 2020, formal dresses have declined in purchases by 21% when compared to last year. 

When we look at more casual styles, like flannel and fleece items, we can see that these trends are going to be a big hit this winter. Although the pandemic has seriously impacted the retail world, people are still shopping and spending money, but the items they’re purchasing have significantly changed. With social distancing and lockdowns going back into effect, consumers are no longer searching for the perfect holiday dress. Instead they are looking for comfortable pieces to wear while celebrating the holidays at home – flannel and fleece pieces fit perfectly into that category.

Holiday Shopping Trends - Flannel

Purchases of fleece items decreased by 8% from September 2018 to September 2019. However in September 2020, fleece purchases were up 47% compared to September 2019. We predict that trend will continue as we get closer to the holidays.

Flannel purchases have gone up 37% when comparing September 2020 to September 2019. Last year, flannel pieces declined in November and December when compared to 2018. This year we predict an increase in the number of purchases of flannel items based on the current uptick. 

Home for the Holidays

With these trends in mind, retailers can adjust their holiday buys and prepare for a stay-at-home holiday season. Categories that have been popular throughout the pandemic, like active and comfort wear, will continue to thrive throughout the winter. Additional trends, like flannel and fleece items, will become best sellers as we approach the colder months. And sadly, due to gathering size restrictions, we don’t foresee glitter, sequins, or formal dresses making a comeback as we approach the holidays.

We gathered these insights from our innovative analytics tool, Fit Intelligence. If you’re interested in learning more about your own product trends, customer demographics, products with high return rates, or a number of other reports, contact us today.

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