Growing up in the 80′s, the holiday gift buying season seemed to start only a few weeks before Christmas and I could hardly wait for those first holiday related commercials to start airing after Thanksgiving. Nowadays, holiday commercials are starting before Halloween. With the advertising change, the gift buying process has evolved immensely. The craziness of Black Friday has been curtailed as Cyber Monday has been ushered in as one of the largest drivers of holiday sales.

Some of the biggest changes that have occurred with holiday shopping have manifested the last few years. Last year, Walmart did a tremendous job leveraging social media with their “Walmart Elves” providing real-time updates of products and monitoring the shortages and missteps of other retailers to engage and entice potential buyers. This was a huge success for Walmart. This year, it is expected that most large retailers will utilize the same sort of process to attract customers through the chaos of what Black Friday has become.

Holiday Shopping Image

The Joys of Black Friday Shopping Last Year
Photo Courtesy of Fox News

It’s not just big retailers who are taking advantage of social media and online efforts to tap into potential customers. Their continues to be a trend of smaller e-commerce only retailers doing their best to leverage different shopping channels to provide lower cost products to have customers make initial purchases on “loss leaders” with the hope that they stay to buy other products. Additionally, these purchases now become prospects that they can continue to market to over the course of the year.

When you look hard at the changes in holiday shopping over the past decade and how many consumers now do their gift buying online, it’s interesting to contemplate the changes that the next decade will bring us. Who would have imagined 10 years ago that you could do holiday shopping via your mobile phone or be able to see real-time sales via sites like Twitter and Facebook? Who would have thought you could avoid the long lines and rushing around by simply sitting back on your computer and waiting for your boxes from Amazon and other retailers to arrive at your door step?

I for one embrace the changes to our digital society, but I will admit to reminiscing a bit about the anticipation of waiting to see the old J.C. Penney catalog arrive in the mail.