Early holiday shopping trends

From computers to watches, we explore how holiday purchasing looked in November as consumers started shopping 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 than years past, there were some familiar signals that harkened back to pre-pandemic Q4 peak shopping trends. For example electronics, apparel and kids products maintained popular across the globe.

The key takeaways from November:



  • 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, outwear, shoes and accessories saw a boost.
  • Kids (US, UK, DE, FR) - Toyshops maintained their typical boost during the holidays as well as a rise in maternity purchases.
  • Electronics (Global) - Specifically items like computers, vacuums, cameras, and other gadgets saw a boost in popularity.
  • Sports and Outdoors (DE, ES, FR) - General winter sports and outdoor activities were popular purchases, with activities like equestrian, boxing, biking and fishing seeing a boost in Germany.
  • Jewelry (Global) - We saw boost in watch sales across regions.
  • Beauty (Global) - From skincare and hair to nails and makeup.
  • Food and Drink (US, DE, ES, IT)
  • Books (US, DE, ES, IT)


  • 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 consumer categories like 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 Q4. In fact, most categories saw a boost in sales due the massive discounts and specials from retailers. Understandably, we saw an increase in home improvement purchases and decrease in ticketing and travel that correlate to both the first and now second wave of the pandemic.[1]

Some German businesses see 30% bump from previous year.

In Germany, Statista forecasted about 2B in sales on Black Friday, down from the past year. According a survey by the German Retail Association, businesses seems to be pessimistic about holiday sales, with half of companies expecting significant losses in sales based on 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 for this subset of retailers by a third, 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 ($9.03B), 30.19% growth on Small Business Saturday ($4.68B), and 15.1% growth on Cyber Monday ($10.84B).[3] While we looked at the industry as a whole, and Amazon Pay supports business off Amazon, for another data point and signal to inform holiday shopping trends and standout products, check out Amazon.com’s Black Friday results here. 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 so far this holiday season in the U.S. and around the world.[4]

What’s 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 that they did last year, but the average shopping window has significantly shortened to 5.9 weeks, compared to last year’s 7.4 weeks. Additionally, 47% of shoppers are not planning to shop on major holiday retail event days, such as Black Friday, Prime Day, and Cyber Monday.[5]

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 forecast from Statista highlighted that in September 2020, 37% of consumer didn’t expect to begin shopping until after Thanksgiving, with 15% not even likely 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