In 2020, Black Friday looked a whole lot different than in years past. For Black Friday 2021, those major changes will continue. A look at 2021 U.S. retail trends show traditional brands scrambling to grow their online presence. For example:
At the same time, digital-native direct-to-consumer businesses keep gaining a larger piece of the retail market.
Now, as consumers get ready for the holiday season and retailers prepare for Cyber Week 2021—Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday—ecommerce has become the primary battleground.
To learn more about 2021 U.S. retail trends, we took a deep dive into Conductor search data. Read on to learn some of the insights that can help your brand develop a content strategy that will win the 2021 holiday season.
Last year, U.S. store visits dropped by 52% on Black Friday. However, U.S. consumers spent a record $9B on retail websites on Black Friday 2020. Early indications are that online shopping will rule Black Friday 2021 as well.
Interestingly, our data shows that search volume isn’t as high for branded terms as in years past. This could be due to shoppers going directly to the company’s domain to do the shopping. As a result, traditional retailers like Wamart, Target, and Kohl’s outrank Amazon in July 2021 volume for searches labeled with “black friday.” Of course, it’s also possible that consumers think of Amazon more for Cyber Monday than Black Friday.
U.S consumers are moving away from the necessities of 2020 and embracing their wants instead. We expect apparel retailers to benefit the most. Electronics will be hot, too. Companies like Nintendo and Apple will likely have high demand again this year, especially if they release new products around the holidays (such as the Nintendo Switch, one of the most popular gifts of 2020) or offer discounts on existing products, as Apple did in 2020.
A look at July 2021 search volume shows a three-way tie among Amazon, online gaming giant Roblox, and Visa gift card distributor Vanilla. This is one hot category when it comes to 2021 U.S. retail trends, considering that 2020 saw a near 40% increase in overall ecommerce gift card sales and an 80% boost in eGift (digital gift card) sales.
We analyzed more than 4,000 searches related to charity giving, donations, non-profits, and volunteering. The results showed a steady increase since the start of COVID-related lockdowns and a 35% YOY increase in interest in Dec. 2020 vs. Dec. 2019. Some of the most well-known non-profits—Goodwill, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity Resale Store, and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital—all saw spikes in search demand.
Roughly 26.5 million active TikTok users are based in the U.S. And the social media channel’s fervent fans are driving retail and e-commerce sales. When we analyzed Conductor and Google research data to find the four most popular holiday season categories among U.S. consumers, we kept seeing the influence of TikTok fashion trends 2021.
Our analysis of more than 230 searches on this topic found consistent increases in November and December 2020 and January 2021, followed by a peak in March 2021. With a post-COVID baby boom happening now in some regions of the U.S., it’s an ideal time for retailers to optimize their websites for baby categories and take advantage of the holiday and late-winter markets.
We analyzed more than 360 keywords for both men’s and women’s bags and found December 2020 to be the peak of searches for this category. With more people returning to the office and traveling this year, we expect search demand to increase again this December.
A category superstar in 2021: the $20 Ikea Drömsäck Tote Bag that went viral on TikTok. Other searches increasing more than 1000% YOY include “chanel bags 2021”, “simply southern tote”, “bogg bag accessories”, and “packing cubes for travel”
All those pandemic-related wedding cancellations in 2020 have created a high search volume for wedding-related items in 2021. Wedding dress searches increased by 150% overall compared to pre-pandemic (2019) levels, and wedding dates for 2022 increased by 22% from 2020, according to a David’s Bridal survey.
Wedding attendee searches for items like “formal wedding guest dresses”, “cocktail & party dresses”, “semi formal attire wedding”, “cocktail dresses for weddings”, and “dress for a wedding guest” increased by 200% since summer 2019. Searches for specific attire, including “ariana grande wedding dress”, “shein wedding guest dresses”, “nordstrom cocktail dresses for weddings”, “macy’s cocktail dresses for weddings”, and “beach formal attire wedding” show a 1000% increase in search demand since 2020.
Shoppers are leaving the pandemic-era comfort of yoga pants and athleisure. Instead, they’re embracing denim. And TikTok fashion trends are leading the way, including the high-waisted Zara jeans that went viral late 2020.
Other TikTok-inspired denim searches spiking in interest: “walmart jeans tiktok”, “tiktok abercrombie jeans”, and “tiktok wrangler jeans”. Low-rise and wide-leg jeans are among the most searched products, with white jeans for men and women, “high waisted flare jeans”, “khaki cargo pants”, “low waist jeans”, and “carhartt pants” also seeing increased search volume.
TikTok leads the conversation among new women’s apparel trends. Halara, a DTC brand open for less than a year, has burst onto the scene with 9K in monthly traffic. They’ve optimized their website for TikTok users and include a page dedicated to TikTok-inspired fashions, showing TikTok’s impact on 2021 U.S. retail trends.
Olivia Rodrigo, a young pop star who charted 11 songs from her debut album on Billboard’s Hot 100, sparked interest in “olivia rodigo shirt” searches.
Other clear trends: tennis skirts and denim of many types (straight jeans, slim flare jeans, high-waisted jeans, and ‘90s jeans).
Wide loose jeans, cargo pants, and jeans with extra designs (locked-and-loaded jeans and gftd pants) are emerging men’s apparel trends that catapulted into search stardom this year after a dormant 2020. And American YouTuber Ranboo (3.17M subscribers) sparked his own trend by wearing a pink suit for a recent video.
High-waisted straight jeans and dresses are top trending women’s fashions. Interestingly, many wedding-related items have returned to pre-pandemic search levels, including strong gains for terms like “cocktail dresses” (MSV 301K) and “wedding guest dresses” (MSV 550K).
Cargo pants and jeans are the top trending men’s fashions. So too are suits, possibly because more people are returning to the office in 2021 after working from home in 2020.
Download and find the answers now in the full U.S. Retail Trend Report 2021 report.
You’ll learn what branded search trends say about the top retailers and marketplaces heading into Black Friday 2021. You’ll gain insight into why search demand is surging for some brands and plummeting for others. You’ll discover the top apparel domains by search intent so you can build a customer journey targeted toward early-, middle- and late-stage consumers. You’ll get lots of fresh organic content ideas.
You’ll even learn which brands top search intent for men’s subcategories—casual & dress pants, polos & shirts, dress shirts, and suits & jackets—and which brands top search intent for women’s subcategories—pants, blouses & shirts, dresses, and skirts.
Use these 2021 U.S. retail trends and insights to optimize your online retail experience and win your share of the Black Friday 2021 market.