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Consumers are already holiday shopping online. Are you ready?

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According to research we began with Ipsos over the summer, consumer behavior is showing a surprising trend: 1 in 4 US holiday shoppers said they had already started shopping for the season as early as July. This means businesses need to be ready to reach consumers earlier than ever before as they look for inspiration for everything from new home office equipment to the perfect gift—as they research and shop on Google, watch product videos on YouTube, scroll for new ideas in Discover, or browse the web. 

With the pandemic fundamentally changing how consumers worldwide shop in 2020, retailers will have to adapt quickly to meet holiday demand. To help you stay ahead of the curve, we've identified five big shifts in shopping behavior that retailers will need to anticipate. For more insights and solutions, be sure to check out the full guide.

Be ready for 5 shifts in shopping behavior

A month-long Cyber Monday: 62 percent of US shoppers say they'll start holiday shopping earlier to avoid crowds. This means retailers will need to rethink the usual timelines for Cyber Monday and Cyber Week to help shoppers already looking for special offers and deals this October.

Digital newcomers driving growth: 69 percent of US shoppers plan to shop online for the holidays more than in previous years, with more people going online to browse and buy for the very first time. Due to this overall trend toward online shopping this year, retailers will need to be ready to offer helpful, frictionless shopping experiences for more first-time online shoppers.

A skew toward online SKUs: 77 percent of US holiday shoppers say they intend to browse for gift ideas online, not in-store. With more purchase decisions being made online, retailers will need to bring the best of their store online and be ready to help customers complete their purchase journey offline—whether they visit in-store, pick up curbside, or choose delivery to their door.

The purpose-driven shopper: 66 percent of US holiday shoppers say they will shop more at local small businesses—retailers are being called to action to help local shoppers identify them and make it as easy as possible to discover their products and make a purchase. 

Something new & something known: With a third of US shoppers having purchased from a brand that was new to them during COVID-19, shoppers are ready to discover new brands and retailers as they shop for what they already know. To connect with new or repeat customers, retailers should get their products front and center with shoppers on the lookout for ideas and inspiration.

Help more holiday shoppers find you easily—online and offline

73 percent of US holiday shoppers have told us they plan to shop online more for the holidays during COVID-19. This week, it will be even easier for businesses to reach holiday shoppers with the global launch of free listings on the Shopping tab. Retailers are already seeing positive results: Woodland Direct, a large e-commerce retailer for outdoor products in the United States, was able to drive an estimated 5% increase in revenue without increasing their budget, based on internal benchmark data. And Sharper Image, a global retailer for consumer electronics and home gadgets, saw a 3.8% increase in website traffic at no additional cost by listing their products for free. 

If you're a retailer with a physical storefront, make sure shoppers on Google can find the most up-to-date information about your store hours and locations, products and promotions, and pickup or in-store service options. Just create or update your Business Profile on Google or update your listings through Google Merchant Center. You can also use Local campaigns to reach nearby shoppers in more places across Google, including on YouTube, Maps, Search and Display.


For leading pet specialty retailer Petco, adjusting to meet expectations from pet owners sheltering-in-place has been key for successful holiday planning. After seeing a surge in searches for “curbside pickup,” Petco shifted to offer more delivery and pickup options. The brand then used Search, Shopping and Local inventory ads to promote its new offerings, driving a 100 percent increase in its e-commerce business and a 66 percent decrease in customer acquisition costs year-over-year.

Whether you’re a major retail chain or a small business, holiday shoppers are already on the lookout for compelling offers and products from you on Google. We look forward to helping you be ready for them during the biggest shopping season of the year with our new 5 shifts in shopping behavior guide.