Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a account? Log In

Holiday Trends to Watch

Ethan Chernofsky
October 25, 2021
Holiday Trends to Watch

The holiday season is on its way and while the last year and half provided an ongoing lesson in the challenges of ‘predicting’ during a pandemic, there is still value in attempting to highlight what the season could hold.

Clearly the ongoing presence of COVID as an actual or potential disruptor is significant, but planning must go on and accordingly we decided to provide some of the key themes we believe will impact the holiday season.

Real Reason for Optimism

Visits hit impressive peaks during the Back-to-School season, with July and early August seeing year-over-year growth for retailers across sectors and for many malls and shopping centers. The surge was driven by a combination of factors including pent up demand, excitement around the wider reopening, and the presence of a key retail season.

And when looking at the trends coming together ahead of the holiday season, a similarly positive confluence seems to be building.  The ability to finally spend the holidays with family after the mass cancellations of 2020 holiday plans may move many consumers to up the ante on gifts this year. So while retail is already open, the pent-up demand for holiday shopping could drive a similar boost as that seen during the summer. 

This is further supported by the continued presence of traditional seasonality patterns where visits decline post summer into October and then rise again in November. In addition COVID cases are on the decline in the US, creating the potential for a pandemic lull as the holiday period kicks off.

In short, timing matters. And there are real signs that this could work in the favor of the holiday retail.

Extended Holiday Season

For many retailers, Thanksgiving shopping will remain a remnant of the past potentially impacting the full weight and impact of Black Friday weekend. And though Black Friday still provided peaks in 2020, the height of those surges was down significantly compared to years prior. 

To combat this, many retailers are pushing holiday retail cheer throughout a more expanded period in the calendar. And this could have significant and positive ramifications for those who handle the more distributed visits well. In fact, already in 2019 chains like Walmart and Target saw similar if not greater visit peaks in the days pre-Christmas than those immediately following Thanksgiving. Should early November and late December become a bigger piece of the puzzle for a wider array of brands, the impact could be significant. This is especially true for those with strong omni channel offerings where convenience-oriented elements like Buy Online Pick-Up In Store (BOPIS) could play a bigger role.

Winter Mall Boost

If COVID cases do continue to decline and winter brings the weather we normally associate with it, malls are going to see a boost. Yes, visit gaps did increase after July saw visits rise above 2019 levels, and the likelihood of seeing holiday retail visits hit 2019 levels is not high. But barring another COVID surge, top tier malls are positioned to see their best months since the start of the pandemic. 

The aforementioned positivity around the holiday season and continued limitations on international travel alongside the unique environment that can be created by malls, offer a powerful opportunity for top tier shopping centers. And the added focus many malls have placed on emphasizing dining and entertainment options will only boost the draw they create. This is even more important in a season that will be defined at least partially by supply chain challenges, where a shopping trip without a wider experience could be less successful than in the past. 


The holiday season is going to be heavily impacted by supply chain challenges. From the likely move away from major markdown deals to the potential sparsity of key items, a big focus for retailers will be finding ways to generate urgency and excitement without the traditional levers to pull.

Luckily for retailers, and if early foot traffic data is any indicator, customers may be feeling the sense of urgency all on their own. Although Best Buy has announced early Black Friday deals beginning October 19th, it seems that some customers have already begun their holiday shopping even earlier. Visits the weeks of October 4th were up 1.1% compared to 2019 – almost as big a jump as the Labor Day boost. Visits the following week were up 6.6% – also a  major jump. And all this before the launch of “Member Mondays,” a special sales event which launches October 18th for members of Best Buy’s new loyalty program Totaltech.

But even if the extension of the holiday season doesn’t solve the problem - which it certainly won’t completely - the focus will need to shift to the creative approaches brands can deploy to manufacture excitement. Whether it be leveraging loyalty programs to incentivize shopping via product access, the impact of Buy Now, Pay Later options or any array of new ideas, retailers will be challenged to utilize different tactics than those used in the past. 

Which trends will prove defining features of the 2021 holiday season? Visit to find out.

Get 3 brand & industry
breakdowns every week

Subscribe to the newsletter

Great! Prepare your inbox for data-driven insights...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get a Demo

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please provide a valid email
Please enter your email
Please enter company name

Thanks for reaching out!

One of our experts will be in touch soon

Try Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Digitally Native Brands Lean Into Brick & Mortar
Washington, D.C. Population Changes & Trends
A Location Intelligence Perspective on Macy’s Rightsizing
Amazon-Powered Shopping: The Future of Brick-and-Mortar Grocery?
Cold Weather, Hot Visits: Diving into Winter Resorts
Wawa and 7-Eleven: Leaning Into the “Slurpee Effect”
2022 and Beyond: Catching Up With McDonald’s & Chipotle
Let’s Have Some Fun! Going Out Is In’s Q4 2022 Quarterly Index Adds Industry Executives to Leadership Team To Drive Company's Next Phase of Growth
5 Emerging Retail Formats: 2023’s Brick-and-Mortar Evolution
Grocery Update: Zooming in on the Lone Star State
2022 Office Recap: The Year of the TGIF Work Week
What Lies Ahead for Brick-and-Mortar Luxury in 2023 Mall Indexes: December 2022 Recap
Looking Back on 2022’s Holiday Shopping Season
Post-Pandemic Migration Trends in New York
Top Retailers for 2023
The Live Sports Advertising Opportunity
Domestic Migration to the Mountain States: Small Shifts with Big Implications
New Year, New Food: 5 Dining Trends For 2023
This is Why Shop-in-Shops Are Everywhere
Super Saturday 2022 Recap
The San Francisco Shift
Grocery Year-End Update: Publix in the Spotlight
Three Ways Retailers Can Think Small to Increase Store Impact
Offline Beauty Is on an Upswing
The Evolving Migration Patterns of New York’s Florida Snowbirds Office Index: November 2022 Recap
How Viral Social Media Trends Can Drive Offline Engagement
Are You Ready for Some Football? Experiential Marketing Shows Promise
Mall and Shopping Center Trends For 2023
Retail Corridors and Indoor Malls: A Holiday Head-to-Head
Placer Bytes: Nike, lululemon, and GameStop Update Mall Indexes: November 2022 Update
Black Friday 2022: Consumers Hear the Call
Digitally Native Brands: Taking Off, Offline
Discount and Dollar Stores Leading the Pack
Turkey Wednesday 2022
Retail’s Evolving Holiday Season
Placer Bytes: Starbucks and Department Stores Ahead of Black Friday
Ulta: A Force to be Reckoned With
College Towns Drive Dining Growth
Foot Traffic Trends Reveal Consumers Ready for Holiday Cheer
How Retailers Can Win Big By Going Small
How Are Consumers Feeling Ahead of Black Friday 2022?
Off-Price, Hibbett, and Dick’s Pre-Holiday Check-in
Ho, Ho, Wholesale: Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s
October 2022’s Retail Rebound
Target and Walmart Ahead of the Holidays
Home Improvement: Leave it to the Pros
Despite Inflation, Holiday Season is Off to a Good Start Office Index: October 2022 Recap Mall Indexes- October 2022 Update
Americans Double Down on Fitness
The State of Grocery
CVS and Walgreens: The Wave Continues
Coffee Chains Brewing Up Visits Spotlight: Pizza Players
What Drove COVID-Era Urban Migration Trends?
Kroger and Albertsons: A Merging of Strengths
Texas Roadhouse Innovations Dishing Up Success
Holidays on the Horizon: Mid-Range and Luxury Shopping
McDonald's and Chipotle's Post-Pandemic Success
Announcing’s Q3 2022 Quarterly Index
5 Hot Restaurant Brands for 2023
Target Finds a Winning Deals Day Formula
Five Trends to Watch for 2022’s Holiday Shopping Season
September 2022 Analysis: A Difficult Month and Time for Optimism
Inflation’s Retail Winners
Five Apparel Retailers to Watch Ahead of the Holidays Spotlight: Wawa’s QSR Pivot Mall Indexes: September 2022 Recap Office Indexes: September 2022 Recap
The Impact of Population Growth on Commercial Real Estate 
Starbucks' New Makeover
There's Somethin' About Pumpkin
Expanding Offline Reach
Breakfast Restaurants are Rising in Popularity
The Power of Labor Day 2022
Tourism in Miami Heating Up
Citi Trends on the Rise
Reaching Rural Consumers Through Retail Media Network
Darden Restaurants Cooking Up Success
The Home Improvement Sector: A Sign of Consumer Confidence
QSR Is Having a Northeastern Growth Spurt
Domestic Migration’s Ripple Effects
A Look Back at Back To School 2022
Kroger Digital Tell-All
The Return of In-Person Networking
The Reinvention of the American Mall Office Building Indexes: August 2022 Recap Mall Indexes - August 2022 Recap
Five Below’s Back to School Success
Plus-Size Fashion’s Staying Power
Placer Bytes: Best Buy & GameStop 
Petco Barking Up the Right Tree
Lipstick Effect Boosts Ulta’s Growth 
Placer Bytes: DICK's Sporting Goods and Hibbett Sports