Holiday season has always been a period of high spend. Retails are rushing last minute to increase their sales while consumers are all in the happy spirit of buying gifts for their loved ones. With desires from both the seller and the buyer, this is the perfect environment for buying. Brands around the world are preparing their products but this year will surely look different given the circumstances with COVID-19.

With social distancing in place, brick-and-mortar stores will have to come up with plans that can accommodate customers safely. Capacity limits and other restrictions should be in place to minimize the risks. In addition, stores will have to adapt their layout and allow for other methods like shopping online and pick-up in store. Another concern that stores should keep in mind is the higher rate of return. A higher percentage of sales will come from online shopping, thus customers will be more likely to return their purchases if expectations were not met. Additional staffing and clear direction should be provided in order to shorten the customer's wait time in-store.

Even with the stores' effort to retain customers, more people will still choose to stay at home and shop online. According to Deloitte, online sales are expected to grow between 25% and 30% and account for nearly 17% of total retail sales this year. No matter the location or country, customers have millions of options at their fingertips. Many retail giants are offering international shipping at a low rate, which will widen the customer selection base and boost the economy worldwide.

In a recent survey of global customers, 66% said that they plan to shop more at local, small-business during the holiday rush. This will be another factor that changes this year's shopping pattern. It is really hard to determine at this point how this season will look compared to others in the past. However, stores should plan ahead and begin to think of ways to increase consumer loyalty while providing a safe shopping experience for all.

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