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2022 Holiday Shopping Season: Insights & Winning Themes

January 19, 2023
2022 Holiday Shopping Season: Insights & Winning Themes

As we near 100 stores across 50 brands, Leap has an inside view to retail performance across multiple categories—ranging from apparel to homegoods and more—in more than 10 markets. Read on for insights into the 2022 holiday season, where we continued to see shopper behavior evolve in light of a changing macro climate and consumer preferences. Brands who reflect on the holiday season, adapt and incorporate learnings from the industry and their peers will be those who succeed in 2023.

Black Friday lagged, and Super Saturday led
Retailers attracted shoppers in droves this holiday season; however, consumer behavior upended previously held-expectations and hinted at new trends. 

Super Saturday holiday shoppers in NYC.

Retailers successfully pulled up Black Friday demand: Many brands launched seasonal discounts before November 1st – earlier than ever before in an effort to normalize sales throughout the month. The incentive was twofold: to capitalize on consumer demand early to hedge their bets against economic uncertainty and to mitigate the sharp Black Friday, Cyber Monday (BFCM) spike that crushed eComm fulfillment centers over the last two years. This resulted in a strong month, but a slower Black Friday single-sales day than expected.

To illustrate: both traffic and sales across the Leap platform steadily increased the first three weekends of November, as consumers responded to early promotions. In fact, sales peaked on Saturday, November 19th – and with single-day sales that ranked 3% higher than Black Friday.

Interestingly, mall doors bucked the BFCM weekend trend. Across the Leap platform, mall traffic outpaced comparison street doors showing that shopping center locations across the country benefited from the concept of the one-stop-shop. 

Super Saturday won December: As November turned to December, consumers were even more primed for holiday shopping and brick-and-mortar retail benefited from consumers’ pent-up desire to shop and experience holiday cheer IRL. Leap platform sales spiked again on December 10th but “Super Saturday”, December 17th proved to be the biggest shopping day of the year—netting a 22% increase in net sales vs. Black Friday.

Just like November, consumer demand peaked earlier than expected as consumers prepared to travel for the holidays, leading them to stock up the weekend before Christmas vs. waiting for more last-minute gifts. As a result, brands across categories benefited from renewed, and even strengthened, interest in in-person holiday shopping. 

Leap’s Holiday Block Party on Bleecker Street, NYC.

5 Themes from Winning Brands 

Analyzing store performance across our platform revealed that brands who took advantage of Leap’s data-driven best practices around Marketing, Merchandising and seasonal displays/signage, benefited from a ~20% sales lift. Below are 5 key takeaways any retail brand can use to improve both year-round and holiday season performance.

1. Communicate clear, compelling promotions.

It doesn’t matter how great your discounts are during the holidays if shoppers can’t quickly and easily understand them. If an offer can’t be understood in three seconds or less, most shoppers will ignore it. Unlike eComm, where homepages and PDPs can allow for more targeted communications, retail promotions need to be simply stated through branded, engaging in-store signage, and then cross-promoted through your omnichannel marketing efforts.

Goodlife has consistently presented their holiday sales in a clear, straightforward manner across both their site and storefront, capturing consumer attention and maximizing performance.

A Goodlife holiday window display.

2. Understand the promotional cadence that’s right for your shopper.

While many brands launched sales early this year, others waited until the days leading up to Black Friday to maximize and capitalize on what’s historically the biggest shopping week of the season. There’s no one size fits all model — understanding your customers is essential to determining the right sale structure and cadence.

3. Offer in-store exclusives and experiences. 

While brands are battling for attention, some shoppers need more than a promotional incentive to visit your store during the holidays. Brands who leveraged additional strategies, such as meaningful and experiential gifts with purchase, set themselves apart.

During Super Saturday, M.M. LaFleur drew shoppers to their Upper East Side location with a free gift from Palermo Body, a NYC-based, female founded brand, in the form of a coffee body scrub. But it doesn’t have to be a gift with purchase. Activations in front of your store, to draw in passerby, with seasonal goodies go a long way!

 Leap’s Bleecker Street Block Party on Super Saturday.

Seasonal activity outside a Leap-powered store.

 4. Test and learn with gift bundles.

More than half of shoppers are buying gifts for others during the BFCM weekend, and that number rises as the holidays near. Brands with brick-and-mortar stores are uniquely positioned to offer gift bundles, and retail stores shine when it comes to this kind of product discovery. Bundles can be creatively merchandised and attractively packaged in-store, and mix-and-matched in a way that isn’t as intuitive online. Plus, an in-store environment allows for more real-time insights — you can easily change out product pairings based on shopper behavior, without worrying about fulfillment and shipping configurations that are critical to an eCommerce operation.  

For example, ThirdLove offered a well-merchandised, five-pack gift bundle throughout the holidays which was both a perfect option for shoppers buying for themselves, and for others. 

Holiday gifters in action.

5. Make stores a gathering place.

Shoppers love the store experience beyond making a purchase.  Shoppers experience your brand in a unique way, building deeper affinity than shopping online. During the holidays, brands on the Leap platform used their stores to create memorable, seasonal experiences and build connections that went beyond the transactional.

For example, Frankie’s Bikinis held an embroidery event on December 17th. Shoppers customized select styles in-store, creating unique pieces while browsing the full selection and connecting with staff and other shoppers. This simple activation created holiday memories for these customers—ones that will return every time they put on their custom-embroidered item. While you can’t put a price tag on that experience, Frankie’s doubled their daily sales goal, and received a landslide of positive feedback from customers. 


Frankie’s Bikinis embroidery activation.

Want to know more about what the new year will hold? Find out what to expect for 2023 as shopper behavior continues to evolve.

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