2020 has been no gift for Santa Claus

Noël 2020 et commerces

A combination of unprecedented factors has considerably hampered the sales dynamics of the Holiday season. And yet in all this confusion, and at the heart of this time shaken by the health crisis, the attachment to shopping at physical shops remains stronger than ever.

A haze has set in on a usually well-oiled sales dynamic

Black Friday postponed, Christmas shopping turned upside down, sales put on ice – the telescoping of sales moments has greatly reduced the visibility of the major events and the animation of the end of the year. And amidst of this thick commercial fog, it’s very difficult to see and feel the magic of Christmas.

The charm of Christmas put to the test

The health crisis has created an unprecedented situation that the shops have been suffering from for several months now. Following the administrative closures, there’s inventory it’s been impossible to sell for months, cash flow has been put to the test, and it’s hard to get a clear view of the French public’s purchasing plans. One thing’s for sure: many of them have decided to make their gifts online. Which is only logical given the aversion they feel for crowds and the deterioration of their customer experience (masks, waiting outside the shops to respect the distance, hand sanitizer required to touch the products etc.).

The end of year sales dynamic this year is an absolute mess. And if shopkeepers were able to reopen their doors, that has not been the case for restaurants, cafés, or cultural and meeting places, which play such a key role in the end of year sales dynamic.

However, the sales dynamic is above all a social dynamic. It’s a dynamic of excitement, of feeling carefree, of euphoria, of real time, which is part of the charm of Christmas, and which nourishes this feeling of belonging and of communion to which the French are so attached. A meeting with yourself and others that cannot take place.

A real attachment to physical shops

While the use of e-commerce has increased, people’s attachment to small businesses has intensified. The awareness that a city’s charm is nothing without its shops has never been so acute. Reconnecting with their familiar shopkeeper, feeling the joy of walking freely through the aisles of a shop again – this is what customers want and hope for. This attachment to shopping at physical shops and places of exchange and experience, is something worth celebrating at the end of the year.

By Nathan Stern, Studies Director