The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the way we live, work, and shop—and it will have a profound effect on the 2020 holiday season. The pandemic has uprooted traditional shopping patterns, forcing retailers to rethink their approaches to the critical holiday season. Ongoing uncertainty regarding the spread of the virus and local conditions will require retailers to be flexible and adapt to changing dynamics and consumer demands.

The start of the holiday sales period typically comes with a flurry of predictions from various industry experts, all looking to be the first to press with their holiday sales forecast. In recent years, holiday sales have grown from 3.5 percent to 5 percent year over year, and pundits typically have been able to closely predict these results. With the host of variables brought into play by COVID-19, that may not be the case in 2020.

We feel that, rather than forecasting sales for holiday 2020, it’s more interesting to evaluate the key drivers of uncertainty for the season and how retailers can prepare for various scenarios as we move through the remainder of a difficult year. Because let’s face it: Predicting sales compared to previous years will be difficult, if not impossible.

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