17 Holiday Shopping Trends to Consider (2023)

Erik Stubenvoll

The holiday shopping season has undergone a seismic transformation, with consumers charting new paths and preferences. 

Navigate the crucial timeline shifts, spending habits, and retailer expectations in this trend roundup. We uncover actionable strategies to stay ahead of the curve and seize this dynamic holiday season’s opportunities.

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Shifting Timelines and Spending 

The popularity and convenience of online shopping have officially forever changed the holiday shopping season, expanding the timeline into October. Some key changes around this include:

1. Start earlier than last year. In fact, start now.

According to a recent survey of US consumers, 50% of shoppers plan to start their holiday shopping no later than October, with 26% planning to forgo Black Friday entirely. Surprisingly, over half of Gen X and 50% of millennial shoppers start shopping as early as September and October. This marks a significant shift in shopping behavior. The traditional frenzy of door-busting holiday sales seems to hold less sway over Baby Boomers, as Black Friday and Cyber Monday appear less important to them.

✨ KORTX recommends making holiday changes to your website as early as September and moving up holiday deals to grab purchasers before the competition.

2. Be researchable.

According to Google research, 36% of customers spent more time researching products and offers in 2022 than in 2021. We can expect this trend to continue, likely with tighter budgets, a bevy of options, and more info about deals and comparison features. This research phase is likely why purchasing starts earlier and earlier. 

✨ KORTX recommends guaranteeing that customers can find info easily about your products. This includes working on a strong SEO presence, providing content marketing such as buyer guides and comparisons, and working with your PR team to ensure that your products are reviewed by popular influencers and blogs for increased exposure.

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Shopping Events Continue to Evolve

It would not be a holiday shopping season without Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These are the days digital marketers prepare for every single year. In fact, most campaigns for these days are set in stone (and budget) by June and July.

3. Prepare for Prime Big Deals Day, launching in October.

After so much success with Prime Day, Amazon will launch a new shopping event in October of this year. While the official dates remain under wraps, this big event will likely serve as a consumer catalyst to start researching and purchasing tickets, especially bigger ticket items like consumer electronics. Dates have not been released, likely in an attempt to deter alternative events like those that have sprung up around Prime Day via Target and Walmart.

✨ KORTX recommends waiting for official details to plan to sink any budget into this shopping event. Best practices will be similar to Prime Day.

4. Use Black Friday to Boost in-store shopping.

Black Friday fell just short of $10 billion in e-commerce sales, marking a 3.6% increase from the previous year at $9.78 billion. However, it lagged behind Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday in online growth, as consumers preferred in-store shopping.

✨ KORTX recommends pivoting to a focus on in-store shopping for Black Friday. Consider advertising exclusive in-store deals to drive foot traffic. Additionally, ensure that websites update to showcase product availability when possible.

5. Spend digital ad dollars on Cyber Monday.

Cyber Monday proved successful in 2022, setting another sales record with better-than-expected gains. The e-commerce holiday surged by 9.0% to reach an impressive $12.43 billion. This exceptional growth outpaced forecasts by 3.8%, showcasing consumers’ enthusiasm for the enticing discounts offered during the event.

✨ KORTX recommends that digital-forward or digital-only brands spend most of their marketing budget on Cyber Monday. Last year’s numbers prove that Cyber Monday (and Cyber Week) is where most online dollars are spent.

What motivates you when it comes to holiday shopping, given your busy schedule?

“Between working full-time and raising 2 kids with jam-packed schedules, I love online shopping after the kids go to bed. I try to shop in advance every year but always come close to the deadline. Confidence in a retailer’s fast (free) shipping and last-minute deals motivates me. I typically reserve in-person shopping for items that won’t ship in time or grab last-minute deals to supplement what I have already purchased online.”


Human Resources Director, KORTX

Ever-Changing Shopping Habits

After COVID-19 put the fast-forward button on digital shopping experiences, online and in-store shopping habits continue to evolve.

6. Provide varied product deals and promotions.

In 2023, the trend of prioritizing household essentials over traditional holiday items is expected to persist. The pandemic-induced shift towards practical purchases will continue, impacting consumer electronics and furniture sales. Reduced self-gifting and a softening real estate market will slow demand for TVs, sound systems, smart home devices, and furniture. Many buyers are not ready to replace these bigger ticket items just yet. Instead, customers may spend more on food and beverages, health, personal care, affordable luxuries, and discounted apparel.

✨ KORTX recommends focusing holiday deals and sales on a varied product list. Brands selling expensive items like electronics or furniture may want to supplement sales with accessories or smaller items for incremental gains this year.

7. Make life easier for mobile shoppers.

According to a survey conducted in July of this year by JustUno, 49.6% of shoppers reported that they primarily use their mobile phones for online shopping. With nearly half of customers browsing online, keep mobile user experience in mind. Whether your brand focuses on a website or an app, ensure these experiences allow for easy purchasing and browsing. 

✨ KORTX recommends reviewing your current customer data to determine how your customers shop and optimize that experience. Additionally, use cross-device tracking and targeting to maintain consistency across experiences.

8. Find a Buy Now, Pay Later partner.

Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) plans are gaining traction this holiday season beyond big purchases. BNPL options are expected to grow by +18.7% in 2023 and reach 82.1 million users.

✨ KORTX recommends considering partners with a BNPL plan to allow customers to stretch their tightening budgets. Options for this include Klarna, Affirm, and Afterpay.

What role does “buy online, pick up in store” play in the shift towards digital sales channels?

“Consumers and retailers are both driving buy online pick up in-store activity. What this means is there is less physical in-aisle browsing. So not only are sales shifting more “digital,” but discovery will as well. Exact physical placement in the store will matter less, and digital visibility will matter more. We see this as an opportunity for our clients emerging in their category to skate to where the puck is going.”

Return-to-Store 2023

Shoppers are ready for in-store shopping in a big way, despite rumors that the experience leaves much to be desired these days. 

9. Brick and mortar is back in a big way.

COVID-19 altered holiday spending habits. E-commerce surged in 2020 due to safety concerns, stayed strong in 2021, but slowed in 2022 as restrictions eased. This shift reflects evolving consumer behavior, influencing 2023 retail trends. 

Lower growth in holiday retail sales in 2022, while falling short of forecasts, isn’t a cause for alarm in 2023. Brick-and-mortar spending exceeded $1 trillion, an impressive feat considering the previous year’s record-high jump. Conversely, holiday e-commerce growth experienced a dip, signaling a potential shift in consumer behavior towards physical stores.

✨ KORTX recommends focusing digital efforts on both online sales and brick-and-mortar visits. In-store shopping hasn’t died.

10. Shoppers seek out buy online, pick-up in-store options.

According to Salesforce, Buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) surged in 2020 and remains crucial for shoppers. Research shows that 39% seek out retailers offering it, influencing store choice. Moreover, 41% are more inclined to buy after checking online inventory. This omnichannel trend highlights visibility and convenience as loyalty factors. In 2022, a fifth of holiday orders used BOPIS, increasing to over one in three post-shipping cutoffs.

✨ KORTX recommends implementing BOPIS options for relevant retailers. Brands should leverage partners (like Target and Walmart) who offer this option in their holiday messaging, especially for last-minute purchasers.

Social Media & Shopping

Influencer fatigue is reshaping consumer preferences towards authentic engagement and why prioritizing paid social advertising over big names is key to holiday marketing success.

11. Influencer fatigue is here to stay.

Consumers are tired of many faces (traditionally famous or follower-heavy) jumping into the sponsored game. The move from celebrity influencers to authentic engagement reflects a shift in consumer preferences. Gen Z and millennials crave genuine, unstaged content, rejecting fake influencers and repetitive posts. Brands must pivot towards smaller, trusted influencers and focus on building consumer groups with shared interests. 

✨ KORTX recommends focusing on influential and savvy micro-influencers over big names. Building your brand in the space is also important. Famous faces will only take you so far. 

12. Paid social ads driving more sales than ever.

Social media advertising is poised to outperform traditional marketing efforts this holiday season by 10x, according to SalesForce. Research shows a 27% YoY increase in traffic referrals from social platforms. Over half of consumers visited physical stores after discovering products on their social feeds. Notably, product ads in social feeds are twice as likely to lead to purchases as influencer promotions. With 50% more shoppers visiting websites after viewing a social media ad than from a promotional email, brands should prioritize their presence on preferred channels for optimal holiday engagement. 

✨ KORTX recommends spending your ad dollars on paid social advertising.

What role do social media platforms play in driving holiday sales, and how can businesses optimize their social media marketing?

“Social media platforms provide one of the closest connective points between the company and the customer. They provide an outlet for brands to express their personality while also creating the opportunity to lead users through each step of the purchase funnel. As consumer spending increases during the holiday season, it’s a huge opportunity to stand out and get in front of your target audience to make purchasing as easy as possible. Make relevant content to where the consumer is in their journey, continue running content that will speak to a new audience, and ask for the sale.”


Account Strategist, KORTX

CPG & Grocery Trends

In addition to the seasonal influx of gift-buying, the holidays are a time for dinner parties and large family meals. The following trends, provided by Chicory, are shaping CPG and grocery-buying habits this year. 

13. Customers start menu planning early.

According to Chicory’s Consumer Capture: Holiday Entertaining (2023), 29% of consumers plan their holiday menu over a month in advance and 41% plan 2-3 weeks in advance.

✨ KORTX recommends scheduling CPG advertising around this timeline in order to capture consumers during their planning stage in order to keep your brand top-of-mind.

14. CPG brand recognition will boost sales.

The same study indicates that 61.2% of shoppers have already made a brand purchase decision before they enter the store. This gives brands an opportunity to focus on brand awareness during the months and weeks leading up to holiday shopping.

✨ KORTX recommends incorporating a brand-awareness approach  into your holiday campaigns, especially for newer or lesser known brands.

15. Online recipes provide a key marketing moment.

Up to 88% of shoppers use online recipes in order to plan their meals. While traditional family recipes reign supreme, online recipes follow closely behind.

✨ KORTX recommends utilizing social media, influencers, and your website to showcase how your products can be used in holiday recipes.

🥘 Online Recipe Content Inspires Holiday Meals

“The holiday season is defined by tradition; therefore, it’s no surprise that 55% of shoppers source holiday recipes from friends and family.

Online sources follow closely behind with 45% of shoppers using organic search to find recipes and 42% going directly to their trusted recipe publishers and bloggers, like Food Network or The Girl Who Ate Everything.”


Consumer Capture: Holiday Entertaining (2023)

Expectations for Retailers

Customers have high expectations for 2023 shopping. Shoppers know they’ve traded data for convenience. They are cashing in on this promise. Brands that do not cater to their specific needs and provide convenient shipping options may be out of luck.

16. Customers expect personalized deals.

Customers know brands have expanded digital capabilities to offer a personalized experience, and they expect it. BusinessWire says 69% of shoppers expect retailers to provide more customized offers. 

✨ KORTX recommends brands with First-Party data capabilities should lean into delivering these experiences. 

17. Ship as fast as you can.

Amazon has set a precedent for fast shipping, and customers expect other retailers to catch up even if they have to pay more for it. Key stats show that, for example, 32.26% of millennials are willing to pay more for it, and late delivery is a key feature for millennial and Generation Z consumers.

✨ KORTX recommends elevating any shipping offers into holiday messaging whenever possible.

Embrace Change, Elevate Engagement, Excel in Sales

As we approach the holiday season, remember that adaptability is crucial. You’ll set yourself up for success by starting early, emphasizing in-store experiences, and engaging customers personally. Here’s to a season of sales prosperity and memorable customer interactions!

Holiday Marketing Made Simple

When it comes to holiday marketing, trust KORTX to be your ultimate partner in crafting captivating campaigns that resonate with your target audience!

With a sleigh-full of experience, we craft campaigns that jingle all the way to your audience’s hearts.

Erik Stubenvoll is a Managing Director at KORTX with over 20 years experience. When he is not learning about his client’s goals, he is on the sidelines with his wife at his daughter’s softball and soccer games or on the golf course.

Erik Stubenvoll

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