Holiday shopping is going to be different this year—for consumers and retailers. With economic experts predicting marginal increases in holiday retail sales compared to last year, brands must work to maximize revenue, online and off, and build customer relationships with staying power across the various channels.

Although the growth rate might be small, we are still talking a potential $1 trillion-plus in U.S. retail sales, according to eMarketer, which would make 2020 the second holiday season ever to surpass the $1 trillion mark. Not bad for a financial recession. Now retailers must be sure they can secure their piece of the holiday shopping pie.

While eMarketer predicts a 35.8% increase in online sales year-over-year, brick-and-mortar still accounts for 81.2% of U.S. holiday retail sales. So, creating enjoyable in-person experiences that make customers feel safe and valued will be key. Brands must also consider how in-person touchpoints connect with digital ones and take a customer-centric approach to marketing, communication, and experiences, thereby building long-term customer relationships that can withstand the test of COVID, and the test of time.

Understanding trends in consumer behavior this holiday season

Don’t expect massive Black Friday events this holiday shopping season. Consumers will start shopping earlier to avoid crowds and potential shipping delays. Amazon and big-box retailers have already kicked off their holiday campaigns, and other retailers should follow suit, so they don’t miss out on consumer spend.

This year, retailers should think of the holiday season as an extension of the best practices they