Early holiday shopping trends

From computers to watches, we explore what holiday purchasing looked like in November, as consumers shopped for everyone on their list during the biggest retail events of the season.

Around the world, we expected holiday shopping to look a little bit different this year. While more consumers shopped online in years past, there were some familiar signals that harkened back tose pre-pandemic fourth quarter peak shopping season trends. For example electronics, apparel and kids products maintained their popularity across the globe.

The key takeaways from November:


What trended up

  • Home products (Global) - Furniture, cookware, and other home good grew in popularity.
  • Home improvement (Global) - From building bathrooms to building shelves. Home and garden was also a popular subcategory (US, IT, DE).
  • Apparel (Global) - Athleisure, outerwear, shoes, and accessories saw a boost.
  • Kids (US, UK, DE, FR) - Toyshops maintained their typical boost during the holidays, as did maternity purchases.
  • Electronics (Global) - Specifically items like computers, vacuums, cameras, and other gadgets saw a boost in popularity.
  • Sports and outdoors (DE, ES, FR) - Purchases for general winter sports and outdoor activities were popular, with products related to horseback riding, boxing, biking and fishing seeing a boost in Germany.
  • Jewelry (Global) - We saw a boost in watch sales across regions.
  • Beauty (Global) - From skincare to makeup to and hair and nails.
  • Food and drink (US, DE, ES, IT)
  • Books (US, DE, ES, IT)

What trended down

  • Travel (Global) - From air and hotel (Global) to automotive products (EU).
  • Digital goods (Global) - Ticketing (US, UK, DE, ES, FR, IT), online gaming and dating (DE), software and security (US, DE).
  • Collectibles (UK, FR)


It may come as no surprise that the consumer categories of toys, home goods, electronics, and apparel topped the list of popular products during early holiday shopping. These tend to be some of the more popular categories every year during retail’s biggest shopping days in the fourth quarter. In fact, most categories saw a boost in sales due to the massive discounts and specials from retailers. Understandably, we saw an increase in home improvement purchases and a decrease in ticketing and travel, which correlates to both the first and now second wave of the pandemic.[1]

Some German businesses see a 30% bump from the previous year

In Germany, Statista forecasted about $2 billion in sales on Black Friday, down from the past year. According a survey by the German Retail Association, businesses seemed to be pessimistic about holiday sales, with half of all companies expecting significant losses in sales due to the extended lockdown running into December, and 62% of retailers feeling grim about business during Christmas. However, retailers selling household goods, DIY supplies, furnishings, and food, however are reporting satisfactory to very good business. The survey indicated that online sales are expected to rise by a third for this subset of retailers, compared to the previous year.[2]

Global indicators based on US results

Adobe Analytics, which tracks 80% of online sales at the top 100 retailers in the US, reported 21.6% YoY growth on Black Friday ($9.03 billion), 30.19% growth on Small Business Saturday ($4.68 billion), and 15.1% growth on Cyber Monday ($10.84 billion).[3] While we looked at the industry as a whole, and Amazon Pay supports business off Amazon, Amazon.com’s Black Friday results provide another data point and signal to inform holiday shopping trends and standout products this season. It’s worth noting that independent businesses selling on Amazon, nearly all of which are small and medium-sized businesses, are seeing record demand from customers this holiday season, both in the US and around the world.[4]

What’s does the rest of the peak shopping season look like?

When it comes to gift-giving, according to a holiday retail survey from Deloitte, US consumers plan to start shopping the same time this year, but the average shopping window has significantly shortened from last year’s 7.4 week window to 5.9 weeks. Recent reporting from PYMNTS indicates that as of Black Friday consumers had made 55% of their annual holiday shopping expenditures already — with only 40% left to capture this season.[6] Similarly, a Statista forecast from September highlighted that 37% of consumers didn’t expect to begin shopping until after Thanksgiving, with 15% not even likely to begin until December.[7]

[1] Amazon Pay, Consumer Segmentation Study, 2020
[2] Germany Retail Association, Holiday Survey, 2020
[3] Adobe Analytics, Retail Shopping Insights, 2020.
[4] Amazon Day One Blog, Supporting Small, Saving Big and Shopping Early, 2020
[5] Deloitte, 2020 Holiday Retail Survey, 2020
[6] PYMNTS, Black Friday 2020: COVID-19 Steepens Physical Retail’s Long Slide, 2020
[7] Statista, 2020