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What Sellers Should Expect from Holiday Sales in 2020

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Every eCommerce seller knows that the holiday season is the most important time of year. Virtually everyone is looking for gifts for their friends and family, and over the last decade, more and more people have been going online to get what they need.

As busy as previous years have been, 2020 is expected to be even bigger for eCommerce sales. The pandemic and concerns around safety mean a greater number of people are shopping online, which could lead to record numbers.

So, what exactly should sellers expect this season? We’ve got all the analysis for you. We’ve also included some tips to ensure you’re selling the right items to maximize your profits.

What Happened During the Holidays Last Year?

Last year’s holiday season was huge for online retailers. eCommerce sales in the U.S. were up 13.2% during the holidays in 2019, for a total of $137.6 billion. That was a big increase from $121.5 billion in 2018 and $109.2 billion in 2017.

As you can see, eCommerce holiday sales have been increasing for a while. Even without the pandemic’s influence, revenue was likely going to grow again this year based on the trend over the last few years.

However, the pandemic could mean that online shopping is due for an even bigger jump.

How Has COVID-19 Influenced Shopping Habits in 2020?

The spread of COVID-19 has profoundly impacted all of our lives, and retailers have certainly noticed. It’s not just what people are buying but how they’re buying that has changed from just a year ago.

Here are some of the ways consumer shopping habits have shifted due to the pandemic:

More People are Shopping Online

The last place people want to be right now is a crowded store. That’s why TransUnion’s Retail Report found that 76% of shoppers plan to buy their gifts online this year. That same report found that only 21% of people plan on doing their Black Friday shopping in person.

On top of all this, local restrictions have forced many stores to limit their capacity and hours, meaning even those that want to shop in person might not be able to do so.

People Plan to Start Their Holiday Shopping Early

According to a recent survey, 30% of consumers say they’re going to start their holiday shopping early this year.

When it comes to shopping online, shipping is a big concern. Delays have already been an issue this year, and many shoppers want to make sure they receive their items before Christmas.

So, expect more people making purchases in November and early December than usual.

Many are Looking for Non-Traditional Gifts

When talking to shoppers this year, many studies are finding that people are more interested in non-traditional gifts. This could include items that can be used at home, such as games and streaming service subscriptions. It could also be tablets and other devices that allow people to connect online or travel vouchers that can be used after the pandemic is over.

As a retailer, assess the current climate and try to think outside the box in order to offer products that meet people’s needs.

What Should eCommerce Sellers Expect This Year?

When you combine an increase in online shopping with the biggest shopping season of the year, it’s easy to see how this could be an extremely profitable time for sellers.

The consulting firm Deloitte is predicting that eCommerce sales could grow by 25% – 35%. Meanwhile, Amazon expects to have its biggest year ever, with sales estimated as high as $121 billion. Everyone is gearing up for a huge shopping season, so if you run an online business start preparing now.

Make sure to start running your sales and promotions early. You should also start doing your research to see what items are trending so you can capitalize on surging sales.

5 Products That Are Popular During the Holidays

Even with the increase in online traffic, you need to be selling the right items to really make the most of this holiday season. Trends come and go, but there are some items that consistently generate sales every winter.

Below are five products that you should consider selling. We’ve included sales numbers from Amazon so that you can analyze their performance during the last holiday season.

Gift Sets

image for gift set header
image for gift set stats header

Gift sets are always popular around the holidays. And the best part is there are tons of options, especially in the personal care/beauty niche. As you can see, this Burt’s Bees set saw a nice spike last year, and it’s trending way up this holiday season.

Christmas Sweaters

image for christmas sweaters header
image for christmas sweaters stats header

Nothing says Christmas like a tacky Christmas sweater. “Ugly” sweaters have become a popular trend over the last few years, and it seems like they’re in demand again. This particular sweater saw big sales last year, and sales are already on the rise this November.

L.O.L. Surprise! Dolls

image for L.O.L. Surprise! Dolls header
image for L.O.L. Surprise! Dolls stats header

Despite all the gadgets available these days, little girls still love receiving dolls for Christmas. The L.O.L. Surprise! line is one of the most popular ones out there. Sales were huge last November and December, and they seem to be spiking again this year.

Outdoor Lights/Christmas Lights

image for Outdoor Lights Christmas Lights header
image for Outdoor Lights Christmas Lights stats header

This is a bit of an obvious one, but Christmas lights always sell well this time of year. One tip is to sell white lights like the ones pictured above. As you can see, sales stayed pretty strong all winter since these lights aren’t specifically Christmas-themed.

Fleece-Lined Leggings

image for Fleece-Lined Leggings header
image for Fleece-Lined Leggings stats header

Anything lined with fleece is in demand when it’s cold, and these fleece-lined leggings are becoming increasingly popular. Sales were strong last winter, and they’re really taking off this year, meaning they could be a good choice as a holiday gift item.

How to Do Effective Product Research in Preparation for the Holidays

The biggest eCommerce sellers don’t become successful due to luck. They work hard and put in many hours of preparation and research in order to reach the top.

Even though all signs point to this being the busiest holiday season ever for online retailers, that doesn’t mean you can’t sell any item and expect to make money. As we’ve just seen, some products sell much better during the holidays than others, so if you really want to get the most out of the holidays, you need to put in the time and to do it right.

This all starts with effective product research. But how do you go about choosing the right items to sell?

Here are a few tips:

Find Products That are Trending

When a product randomly breaks through and becomes a hit, a lot of people say it “came out of nowhere.” However, in most cases, there are signs that an item is about to spike in popularity weeks or even months in advance.

The key is to analyze products leading up to the holidays and look for ones that have rising sales. If an item is trending up in October and November, there’s a good chance it could really explode in December.

Look to See How a Product Sold Last Year

Have you ever heard the saying, “history repeats itself?” Well, it’s often true. Sure, there are some items that have one big year and then disappear forever. But for the most part, if a product was in demand last year it will be popular again this year.

Before deciding whether you should sell a product, make sure to review its sales last year. An even better idea is to combine this tip with our last one. If you notice sales increasing leading up to the holidays, and you see that an item sold really well last year, chances are you have a winner on your hands.

Use a Good Product Research Tool

Having access to the right data can be the difference between running a mediocre eCommerce store and building a successful business that becomes your primary source of income. Luckily, there are several tools that will provide you with the information you need.

For example, AMZScout has many different Amazon product research tools that will give you valuable insights. Search Amazon’s entire product database, see estimated monthly sales, review an item’s sales history, and more. Even if you don’t sell on Amazon, this information can be used to predict trends on other platforms as well.

No matter what software you decide to use, be sure it gives you all the data necessary for your business to reach its full potential.

Consider the Pandemic

While many buying habits will stay the same, COVID-19 has changed the outlook of many shoppers. So, you’d be remiss if you didn’t factor this into your product research this year.

People are spending a lot more time at home, which means any product that can be used indoors amongst small groups is going to be popular. When it comes to technology, look for items that allow people to connect with loved ones they aren’t able to see right now. Finally, look for items that make homes cozier, like blankets and candles.

These are just a few ideas. Do your own research and try to find products that suit people’s current needs.


Don’t let the holidays sneak up on you. Start preparing as soon as possible so you can take advantage of what should be one of the biggest online shopping seasons ever.

Find products that historically sell well during this time, look for items trending up, use the right tools, and consider the impact of the pandemic.

If you do all this then your eCommerce business should thrive this year.

This post was written by AMZScout Amazon Expert Team. AMZScout is an Amazon analytics software that helps online sellers to do product research and maximize profits. They share actionable insights and identified trends to guide sellers to success.

Tarik Ozkan

Tarik Ozkan

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