How COVID-19 Is Changing Holiday Shopping

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the move to online shopping and small businesses are struggling to keep up.

The holiday season is typically marked by a frenzy of gift shopping, with shops decorating their storefronts in elaborate festive displays. This year, many consumers are moving online to avoid the potential risks of in-person shopping.

“Holiday shopping is all about the experience of shopping… We cannot experience that right now.” — Ayalla Ruvio, Michigan State University professor

How will this significant change in consumer behavior, spurred by the pandemic, impact large and small businesses alike?

Listen: How retailers are adapting to a COVID-19 holiday season. 


Ayalla Ruvio is a professor of marketing in the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University. She says businesses are facing big challenges this holiday season. “Retailers are really struggling this season because holiday shopping is all about the experience of shopping… We cannot experience that right now,” says Ruvio.

Vendors, she says, are scrambling to innovate and create online experiences that can replicate the magic of in-person holiday shopping. The move online requires resources, infrastructure, and finances, things that small businesses struggle to secure. “In order to be online correctly and effectively, you have to have resources they (many small retailers) don’t have,” says Ruvio on the disparity between large and small businesses. Ruvio says this holiday season is going to be really hard for small retailers, with many struggling to stay afloat. She encourages all who are able, to do their gift shopping at local businesses this year.

Related: Help Detroit’s Small Businesses By Shopping Locally This Holiday Season

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