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eBay Advertising survey: COVID's online shopping boost likely to continue through holidays

August 27, 2020
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This post is sponsored by eBay Advertising.

The way people plan to do their holiday shopping this year will be different than ever before. According to a survey from eBay Advertising, a majority (54%) of eBay shoppers say they will be doing all of their holiday shopping online. Nearly three-quarters (72%) plan to buy more of their gifts online this year than last.

This is in line with trends brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic -- shoppers clearly did more than learn to bake or start a new hobby while sheltering in place. With most stores closed, 56% of people did more online shopping while at home. And this habit is expected to continue through the fall and winter as 72% expect to continue shopping more online even as stores open.

The new research is from eBay Advertising, which surveyed its customers and other online shoppers and found similar responses from both groups. The results are clear -- marketers looking to target holiday shoppers this year should focus a significant share of their efforts where consumers are spending their time: e-commerce and other digital channels.

"E-commerce has gone from a convenience to a necessity. There's no doubt consumers will be more reliant on e-commerce marketplaces like eBay during the holidays in order to shop from the safety of their own homes, avoid crowds and pick up gifts at great deals. Marketers should continue to take cues from consumer behaviors and engage shoppers where it matters most this season -- e-commerce," said Scott Kelliher, head of eBay Advertising US.

When it comes to how much they anticipate spending during the holidays, 65% plan to spend the same or more compared with last year, with money previously spent on big travel or holiday experiences likely shifting to gifts. The shift should bump up numbers from 2019, when more than half of consumers spent $1,000 or less on holiday shopping.

With fewer people traveling to deliver gifts in person, about one in four eBay shoppers plans to begin shopping earlier this year to avoid the stress of gifts not arriving in time due to potential shipping delays. Last year, 42% of respondents started their holiday shopping by Halloween, while 30% waited until November and 17% waited until early December. This early start makes it even more important for marketers to start early too, and get their messages in front of shoppers who are getting a head start this year.

Consumers have not given up on brick-and-mortar retail. Almost three-quarters want to support brick-and-mortar shops in some way, and about the same number will do at least some holiday shopping in stores.

That support is welcomed by retailers who have leveraged established platforms like eBay to sell online.

"Running our eBay business has provided a much-needed sense of normalcy during this uncertain time. We strive to inspire creativity and personal expression through fashion. Since we've had to temporarily close our physical shop, our eBay Store has been an absolute lifeline for maintaining that important connection with our customers," said Josh Holder and MaKenzie Godso of the Time Warp Boutique.

After months of forced isolation, 68% surveyed say spending time with loved ones is their top priority this holiday season. And despite continuing challenges of social distancing, 76% who hosted a holiday celebration last year plan to do the same this year.

For marketers looking to reach holiday shoppers, the benefits of first-party shopper data to reach the right shopper at the right time, every time, should not be underestimated as the holidays quickly approach.

"Thanks to first-party data like ours, advertisers don't have to depend on assumptions about whether or not a consumer is intending to buy something," Kelliher said in an interview earlier this year. "E-commerce data like we have at eBay is based on real people shopping. Every visit, every purchase -- and every item not purchased -- every item viewed, every category shopped and every ad campaign engaged with results in billions of shopping insights that we share with our partners."

Are you ready for the holidays? Learn more from eBay Advertising about 2020 holiday shopping trends and reaching shoppers on eBay.