Holiday Cheer: 7 Predictions for MULO Retailers

Holiday Cheer: 7 Predictions for MULO Retailers

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Although we’re still sporting flip-flops and lounging on the beach, the winter holidays will soon be upon us. Multi-location (MULO) retailers have already bought their merchandise for their physical and digital shelves, and agencies have pitched and sold ad campaigns.

So, we’re skipping back-to-school shopping, Halloween trends, and Thanksgiving meal specials and heading into the winter holiday season.

Last year, many retailers were disappointed with sales, but some categories (like “affordable splurge” cosmetics) were clear winners.

Total holiday spending was actually up 7 percent in 2022. Omnichannel shopping (a combination of online and in-store) is clearly here to stay.

But the pundits of holiday shopping trends have not yet taken out and polished their festive crystal balls for 2023, although much speculation exists regarding consumer anxiety and how that might impact spending habits.

Here are some predictions from this Street Fight “Ghost of Xmas Future.”

  1. Overall sales are expected to be up slightly in 2023 (up 4.5 percent YOY), with consumers using coupons, shopping for deals, and taking advantage of special holiday shopping days (like Black Friday and Cyber Monday). According to one source, it will be a “solid but unspectacular holiday 2023.” But making that experience spectacular for loyal shoppers and diners is within your brand’s control!
  2. Personalized shopping recommendations will continue to flourish. As more sophisticated AI-powered analytics enter the retail and restaurant world, consumers will see more relevant product and service picks on their devices.
  3. Holiday “experiences” will abound. One powerful example is Hallmark’s dramatic pivot from being a greeting card and ornament retailer to a media company. In addition to its holiday Enchant pop-up experiences, they are launching a Christmas Cruise. Although it’s not setting sail until 2024, marketing has already begun.
  4. Fan merch is no longer just for musicians. As more MULO retailers and restaurants build loyal and committed shoppers and diners, gift givers will look to their stores and websites for branded presents and gift cards.
  5. Sustainability remains important to consumers, both in product manufacturing, company policies, and shipping materials. Gen Z is especially concerned about the impact of their lifestyles on the planet. But greenwashing is easily identified, so if you’re touting your eco-friendly practices this holiday season, make sure your claims are real.
  6. Convenience features like drive-thrus and curbside pickups are well-advertised, and consumers can easily get what they need (especially during those last-minute shopping excursions or feast preparations. BOPIS (Buy online, pick up in-store) is another convenience trend that emerged during the pandemic but is here to stay! Customer service is critically important in all aspects of the shopping experience. Last year, returns increased 12 percent! Online shopping probably contributed to that stat, so brands must ensure they are prepared for the holidays even after the holidays!
  7. Whether holiday travelers are heading to their grandmother’s house or an exotic location, they’ll continue to look to the small screen to find stop-offs and destinations “near them.” Savvy brands will ensure that every location’s pages are up-to-date and accurate, that reviews are current and positive, and holiday specials are boldly featured.

Although we’re still six months away from lights, tinsel, family travel and meals, and gifting, MULO brands should be thinking about the consumer experience — brick-and-mortar and online year-round.

When holiday shoppers search their phones or ask Siri for that last-minute gift idea or activities for their house full of guests, what will they find about YOUR brand?


Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in, the New York Times and Forbes.