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Retail Industry Updates

Some Retailers Are Getting Ready for the Holidays, Others Aren’t as Proactive

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PayPal commissioned a study in August to find out how small- and medium-sized retailers are preparing for the upcoming holiday season. Among the 1,000 retailers surveyed in sectors ranging from home goods and electronics to fashion and cosmetics, PayPal found that only 39% are proactively preparing their businesses for the holidays.

While one in five businesses said their future is dependent on this year’s holiday results, over half (57%) hadn’t started preparations at the time the survey was conducted. And 70% they’re not planning to hire additional holiday help or bring back employees who were let go because of COVID-related cutbacks

The research, conducted by Netfluential, revealed that many U.S. retailers are taking a reactive, wait-and-see approach to the holidays. Still, other merchants said they’re being proactive by finding innovative, tech-enabled ways to reach consumers in the new environment.

According to PayPal, one possible reason for the lack of preparation is caution and uncertainty about shoppers’ willingness to spend as much as they did in previous holiday seasons. That said, while more than one in three merchants expect holiday sales to be lower than last year, the research shows that some merchants are implementing key strategies to boost revenue, including offering financing.

PayPal also found that retailers are also embracing additional methods of digital sales outside of their own websites. Thirty-nine percent plan to sell products on digital marketplaces, and 31% will make products available for purchase through social media apps.

Also, more than a third (34%) of retailers who sell in brick-and-mortar stores are implementing cashless payment options. In addition, among fashion retailers, 39% plan to offer virtual alternatives to fitting rooms, including online fit or sizing tools, virtual showrooms and virtual stylists.

The survey also found that 81% of retailers are taking extra precautions to keep shoppers safe. Nearly half (46%) plan to offer curbside pickup, while about the same amount will make masks mandatory and implement physical distancing rules. Thirty-four percent said they will offer hand sanitizer in-store.

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