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  • Writer's pictureColliers | Columbus


Written by: Anjee Solanki

Anjee is National Director, Retail Services USA, of Colliers International. Based in San Francisco and with 28 years of experience, she provides strategic leadership to over 500 specialized retail professionals across 163 offices. Check out her post on Colliers Knowledge Leader here.

The holidays are fast-approaching and with it the daunting task of gift-buying. Consumers anticipate spending just under $1K on gifts this year, according to a National Retail Federation (NRF) shopping survey, up from $440 per person. Many consumers have gotten a head start with Amazon Prime Day, Singles Day, and other pre-Christmas shopping savings, while others waited for Thanksgiving weekend.

And as the 2020 economy continues to be precarious, consumers explore alternate retail outlets online and off for the best deals to fulfill their holiday gifting wish list. In McKinsey’s Retail Reimagined report, 40% of consumers have shopped with a new retailer this year, with one-third experimenting with less expensive brands and products.

With an expected increase in online sales of 36.3% by the end of 2020, most retailers are shoring up their online shopping efforts to meet the demand of consumers unsettled by recent coronavirus spikes. Deloitte’s annual holiday retail forecast supports Global Data’s prediction, surmising e-commerce sales growth between 25% to 35%, year-over-year, during the 2020-2021 holiday season.

The 2020 Consumer Wish List

Gift cards (52%), apparel and accessories (47%), media (34%), electronics (27%), and home decor (25%) are among the most coveted. We’ve been on high alert monitoring COVID-19 inspired consumer trends, with an eye on apparel to help inform you how best to shop for everyone on your holiday list.

The Universality of Comfy, Cozy Chic

It started with the work-friendly shirt visible on Zoom screens, secretly paired with pajamas or sweatpants. And as working from home continued, so did consumers desire for comfy cozy loungewear, inspiring brands to notice and pivot. Madewell Jeans launched a signature “Make Weekends Longer” collection this fall for loyal customers looking for comfortable but fashionable sweats. Jil Sander announced a partnership with Uniqlo to bring its minimalistic designer loungewear to a broader audience at a more affordable price point.

All-Inclusive and Fashion Forward

The relaxed fit of loungewear has created space for gender-fluid fashion to go mainstream. Genderless garments are either oversized, formless, and shapeless or are formfitting. Gucci Mx, which also features gender-neutral models launched in July with ready-to-wear and accessories. Moncler collaborated with Jonathan Anderson on outwear designs as part of their Genius Project and Converse released its Shapes collection – a unisex, seasonless, sizeless clothing line appealing to all body shapes. Olly Awake, a Columbus-based designer who pushes gender boundaries in fashion, has completely sold out its collection.

A New Generation of Maternity Wear

With most everyone maintaining socially distanced protocol, it may be awhile before we know if predictions for a pandemic baby boom are on point. For those in the know, the cost-conscious relatives of new parents and parents-to-be, maternity clothing subscriptions may be one way to ease their burden. Brands like Le Tote and Stitch Fix Maternity provide an assortment of apparel and accessories and offer subscribers 3-5 items in their monthly box.

If the expectant mother is a fashionista at heart, consider Mine for Nine, a maternity rental site that provides an alternative to purchasing an expensive maternity wardrobe. For the moms-to-be that prefer to buy clothes outright, there are several lifestyle brands with new maternity lines, including Nike (athletic), Missguided (trendy), Tiffany Rose (special occasion), and newcomer Mom’s the Word, where expectant moms can shop by trimester.

Stream, Browse, Buy

Browsing e-commerce has replaced window shopping as the go-to to research and get new ideas for holiday shopping. According to McKinsey’s global report, the top channels were retailer websites (53%) and brand websites (42%), followed by browsing in stores (40%). This information is on par with consumers learning about the latest fashion from favorite TV shows and TikTok videos, some of which include Emily in Paris and Schitt’s Creek character David Rose’s Lightning Bolt Sweater. If you need to organize your wish list, the social-based shopping app, LikeToKnowIt, allows users to access and purchase items their favorite influencers are wearing in real-time. (Spoiler alert, after watching all the episodes of Emily in Paris, I bought a cool camera case by Awsaccy, very similar to the original.)

Analysts predict that self-soothing purchases will be less of a priority as folks concentrate on personalizing gifts for others. With an eye on publicized shopping days, consumers are more likely to focus on getting the best value and better shipping costs while prioritizing convenience as they budget for the holiday shopping season.

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