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Holiday…It Would Be So Nice

Holiday header

By NCS Marketing

This fall and winter holiday season, shopping is going to look different. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a widespread impact on what shopping looks like (across all categories) and retailers are expecting that to continue into the holiday shopping season. Big-box retailers like Target and Walmart are eschewing a typical Black Friday push in favor of longer sales available across channels, and expecting an increase in items that fit the current lifestyle (exercise equipment and apparel, for example).

But how will holiday sales look for grocery stores? With restaurants mostly open across the country and the pace of life picking up, will Americans return to old habits of dining out frequently? To answer that question, we looked back at the data from the holidays that have already taken place since the beginning of the pandemic.

Meme of Madonna with text " would be so nice"

For the week leading up to the five major U.S. holidays that took place between Easter & Independence Day, average CPG sales were significantly higher than for the same week in 2019. Categories specifically related to the holiday that was being celebrated (alcohol for Mother’s Day, anyone?) saw measurable increases as each holiday approached.

Although overall CPG sales slightly decreased from August to September 2020, Labor Day saw some measurable year-over-year increases on items related to celebrating the holiday.

Labor Day grocery story food spend 2020 vs 2019

Traditional cookout favorites like marshmallows, hot dogs, condiments and deli salads were purchased measurably more than during the same week last year. And Americans continued with the trend of seeking luxury at the grocery store, splurging more on meat and seafood for Labor Day Weekend in 2020.

Percent Change in Spend, Labor Day 2020 vs 2019

The spending habits associated with the past several holidays, coupled with an expected second wave of the pandemic this winter, will lead to continuously elevated CPG sales. This will hold particularly true around holidays and foods associated with comfort, luxury and tradition, as people around the world cling to a sense of normalcy. Not to mention, we’re all still relying on holidays, no matter how small, to add joy and excitement to a week that feels like Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day.

While we’re holding tight to tradition, we’ve also adopted a culture of trial. Set off by the widespread out-of-stocks and forced trial that took place in March, consumers are now trying new items at the grocery store much more frequently than ever before.

advice for CPG holiday 2020 advertsiing

These new habits have created an environment that’s rife for winning new long-term customers who will buy your brand over and over again.

We’ll continue to track holiday spending throughout the season to keep you informed of the latest consumer purchase behavior. Check back soon for insights on Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the winter holidays. In the interim, learn how to drive more sales from your holiday advertising with our Playbook for Advertising Effectiveness.


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As consumers hunkered down at home during most of last year, their spending on consumer packaged goods grew an average of 19% in 2020 compared to 2019 #cpg #grocerytrends ncsolutions photo

2020 was a big year for TP in U.S. sales. We love how @AMStandard used consumer input to inform their clever campaign that allowed consumers to flush away the worst parts of 2020. #toiletpaper