If holiday ads appear any earlier in 2020 than in past years, pre-Halloween appearances of Yule logs and menorahs might be forgivable this time around.
As autumn begins, many small businesses and consumers look ahead to one of the busiest seasons of the year. But, with a global pandemic still changing behaviors and a fiery political environment weighing on the minds of many folks, it’s safe to say that the coming winter holidays will look and feel a bit different.
So, what’s to be expected for small shops, freelancers, and consumers as November and December approach? Undoubtedly, there may be some lingering clouds in the atmosphere, but in some cases, the proverbial silver lining might yet reveal itself.
Retailers: The Big Question
It’s a given that retailers of all shapes, sizes, and platforms do most of their business in the fourth quarter of the calendar year. Yet, with COVID-19 restrictions still expected to be in place, overall holiday sales are projected to be a bit below the figures for 2019. While last year’s holiday sales grew about 4.1 percent over 2018 figures, some analysts forecast sales growth between 1 and 1.5 percent in the coming months.
It appears that even as U.S. coronavirus cases continue to register and resurgences have been reported in other corners of the world, the forecasts for retailers aren’t extremely gloomy. People simply won’t forego the season of giving even if they must approach in-person interactions much differently. The current environment will also affect the way many people make purchases. In 2019, online retail sales grew 14.9 percent over the prior year, and that number can only be expected to grow as the last quarter of 2020 beckons.
Thus, if there’s one takeaway for small shops and boutiques, that advice may involve diversifying into the e-commerce world— or expanding capabilities and capacities if you’ve already launched that endeavor.
Consumers: A Mixed Bag of Merriment
Some people love holiday shopping and all the associated trimmings: a coffee beforehand or a meal and a drink afterward. On the other side, some people just feel that January 2nd can’t arrive quickly enough. Whatever side of the fence you’re on, the holiday season will present a whole lot differently in 2020. While the retail experience might have you encountering smaller crowds, the same might be unfortunately said for family get-togethers and workplace parties.
The COVID-19 pandemic may limit the travel plans of many people, and sensible precautions might warrant that any large holiday gatherings will either be reduced in size or postponed until a later date. Along the way, consumers might benefit from big discounts offered by revenue-starved retailers across multiple industries. Those deals might be witnessed in the pricey consumer electronics realm or even the automobile arena.
So, as the winter is coming and holiday plans take shape, maybe the best outlook is to embrace minimalism. With everyone’s patience worn a bit thin, it is a great time to scale back and count your blessings with immediate family and close friends— and maybe spare yourself from the January credit card bills.
Freelancers: Holiday Feast or Winter Famine?
Last but not least, we take a look at whether the holidays will entail smooth sledding for freelancers. Any self-employed graphic artist, fitness instructor, or small business consultant knows that revenue streams can sometimes be unpredictable. Toward the end of a year not soon forgotten, some of your clients may be ramping up plans for 2021, considering a cut in spending or standing pat. Depending on where your clients fall within these scenarios, you may want to adjust your plans accordingly as a full-time freelancer or side-gig guru.
Assuming it needs some tweaking, your revamped strategy should include some holiday introspection. You may want to ask yourself a few questions. How long have you been in the business? What kind of reserves have you built to withstand some volatility in your revenue stream? Can the relationships you’ve forged with clients ensure that they’ll stick with you or come back around to you once conditions improve? Be honest with yourself and the proverbial return to normalcy— newfound or not— may not be as puzzling as you think.
One last point to consider: You’re doing your own thing. And doing it well. Just like life, business pursuits are cyclical. The one thing you can bank on is that the ideas you conceive and the plans you create for clients are unlike any other previous recommendations. That alone should earn you some holiday bonuses.
The Spirit of the Season
If past experience has told us anything, it’s that clear direction and timely action gets us where we want to go. In spite of the recent economic and social uncertainty, perseverance and creativity spawn positive results. Let Fiverr show you how to give, and keep on giving.