As we wave goodbye to the hottest months of the year and put away our summer clothes, sandals and swimwear, it’s time to sit back and have a look at what shoppers have been looking for between June and August 2020.
The key takeaways
Day adventures and short stays
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for travelling dropped significantly worldwide, exacerbated by a halt in business travel and cruise ships, as well as quarantine measures introduced by governments for people returning from several countries after an increase in cases. A study conducted by eMarketer  predicts that digital travel sales in both the US and the UK will likely not reach their pre-virus sales until 2022. However, the shopping trends from this summer have confirmed that consumers are still eager for discovery within their own countries, organising staycations and enjoying the outdoors. Across Europe, consumers favoured making memories on days out, purchasing tickets for adventure parks, enjoying one-day experiences, as well as splurging on camping gear and BBQ supplies. In Germany, locals have made the most of the hot weather by booking stays at the traditional spa towns across the country, while in Southern Europe, where people are more inclined to spend their holidays at the beach, we saw a surge in ticketing services for trains and ferries to the most sought-after destinations.
Comfort at home
Personal self-care has never been so high on humanity’s priority list. With many unable or unwilling to take time off this summer and explore their surroundings, the focus has once again been on improving our homes and creating a comforting, reassuring environment for ourselves. Around the world, consumers have found ways to improve their quality of life by upgrading day-to-day accessories and tools, from locking in a good night of sleep with the perfect mattress and decorating the floors with beautifully crafted rugs, to choosing a safe water filtering system and upgrading the bulbs in the house.
Despite the strong focus on their abodes, most people decided to drop the gardening tools for the summer. After a strong performance in Q2 for garden centres and online stores selling pots, plants and outdoors furniture, we saw a slower growth over the summer months, especially in Germany and the UK. This does not mean that Brits and Germans did not enjoy their time outdoors, but rather that when the weather got particularly nice and warm, they were ready to sit in the sun, admiring their beautifully mowed lawns they worked so hard to achieve in the previous months.
Dress to impress
When at the beginning of summer governments started to lift restrictions on social gatherings and regional travel was allowed again, for many consumers it sparked the desire to refresh their wardrobe. Making the most of seasonal sales and heavy discounts across global fashion retailers, shoppers updated their hot-weather looks in June. In the US, beach holiday inspired purchases like swimsuits, while sunglasses flew off the shelves in sunny Spain.
Raise your hand if in the middle of the pandemic you ordered pizza on a Friday night. Thought so. Having food delivered to our doors, from grocery shopping to takeaways, has been one of the strongest rising trends of 2020. US companies like Grubhub and Uber Eats have seen an influx of usage during the pandemic. In its most recent earnings, Grubhub reported that the number of active diners in the US grew to 27.5 million in Q2 2020 from 20.3 million in Q2 2019 — an increase of 35%. However, when restaurants in the UK reopened, supported by the “Eat out to help out“ government scheme, the UK saw a slight drop in takeaways deliveries.
“I think you’re on mute”
There was a downwards trend across the electronics industry worldwide. After months of getting all the necessary tools to set up efficient home offices, from dialling into calls and getting new web cams, the phased return to the workplace meant workers were less keen on purchasing electronic devices. At the same time, between June and August fewer consumers spent their free time in front of a screen. In Italy, where government restrictions on social gatherings were lifted just before the summer, streaming services recorded lower engagements starting in June.
With the national elections getting closer and closer, US consumers have become increasingly interested in news outlets and media organisations. Subscriptions to magazines and newspapers, as well as donations to free independent content resources, had an uptick over the summer months and the expectation is that they’ll keep rising until election day on November 3rd. Politics are also influencing purchase behaviour, with patriotic or politically affiliated online stores seeing a higher influx of sales in the US.
So, what’s next?
It’s been a rocky summer for most retailers, with the travel, entertainment and retail industries suffering and consumers across the world losing their purchasing power. As we enter the new season and possibly a second wave of restricting measures across the world, marketers will need to prioritise practical assistance to consumers as a key differentiator for their business. Building campaigns and promoting products that can help in a period of uncertainty should be a core strategy for businesses moving forward.
If you’d like to know more about the future of retail in a post-pandemic world, you can access our PYMNTS thought leadership series here. Listen to Patrick Gauthier, the head of Amazon Pay, and Karen Webster, CEO of PYMNTS as they touch on a wide range of topics related to ecommerce.