What Are Americans Buying on Labor Day?

Pattern Data Science

August 26, 2021

Labor Day is usually seen as the last big “hurrah” of the summer. A time for Americans to go on one more camping trip or have friends and family over for a big backyard BBQ before the kids return to school and cooler weather sets in.

It’s also a weekend when Americans look to do some shopping. In 2018, Americans spent $2 billion online on Labor Day, stocking up on everything from furniture to clothing to appliances and more.

Last year, however, brought a different approach to Labor Day shopping. According to our previous research, for example, back to school items saw demand drop during Fall 2020 compared to 2019.

So we dove deep into our data to learn more about how COVID-19 impacted online demand for some of the categories most associated with Labor Day sales in 2020, how things are trending in 2021 so far, and what that might mean for the future.

Did major categories experience increased demand during Labor Day last year?

First things first, let’s take a look at online demand from 2020 through this summer in a handful of the categories most associated with Labor Day purchases to see if the holiday moves the needle.

We started by examining the online demand for those categories during the week of Labor Day and comparing it to the average weekly demand throughout the rest of 2020. Here’s what we found:

It seems that plenty of people turned to online shopping to get their hands on some non-white shoes last year. From our pool of categories, shoes got the biggest Labor Day bump with a 21% increase in demand compared to the typical week during the rest of the year.

Labor Day week was the 12th biggest week of the year for shoes, making it a solid holiday for shoe sales, but definitely not peak shoe season.

The same was true for most of the other categories we examined as well. Labor Day brought solid if not astonishing increases in online demand, usually around a 10% increase over the average week.

Only outdoor games and activities saw a dip in demand, as Labor Day weekend is most likely a holiday when people bust out the cornhole and bocce ball sets they bought during the spring for one final game of the summer.

For a clearer picture, here’s how 2021 looked for each of the above categories.

Most of these categories experience their largest increases in demand during the summertime. By the time Labor Day rolls around, demand is still above the annual average, but well below previous high points.

Furniture and patio furniture both experienced their high points during the late spring and early summer. Camping and hiking equipment saw demand at its highest from June through the end of August, while shoes experienced even more dramatic highs during that same timeframe.

Outdoor games and activities, meanwhile, saw demand spike in the weeks immediately following lockdown, as Americans were eager for new forms of at-home entertainment. Interestingly, this is the only of these categories where the holiday shopping season brought a substantial boost in demand.

Either way you look at it, though, Labor Day wasn’t a major driver of online demand. It could be that Americans were more eager to do some in-person Labor Day shopping last year after spending a significant portion of the year in lockdown, or it could be that Labor Day simply isn’t the online shopping holiday that others are.

Still, looking at these trends got us curious about how these categories are looking so far in 2021. Has the COVID-19 pandemic had long-lasting repercussions on demand for shoes or camping gear? And how might those trends impact demand during Labor Day weekend this year?

Online demand is up in 2021 for all categories in our analysis

Last year, the pandemic had a clear impact on demand for each of the categories in our analysis. Furniture, patio furniture, and outdoor games all saw demand spike at the start of lockdown as people found themselves stuck at home for the foreseeable future.

Both shoes and camping/hiking equipment saw demand drop in the initial weeks of lockdown, only to rebound in a big way later in the summer.

So how has 2021 compared so far? Is demand up even more as things have reopened? Has the delta variant surge over recent months had any impact?

Let’s start with a broad look by comparing all of 2021 so far to the same timeframe in 2020.

It looks like the more things reopened this year, the more Americans decided they needed a new pair of shoes to venture out in. Online demand for shoes is up a whopping 157% in 2021 so far compared to the same timeframe in 2020.

Each of the categories in our analysis has seen demand up in 2021, though. Online demand for outdoor games and activities has been up 10% in 2021, while each of the other categories has experienced a nearly 30% increase.

For an even clearer picture, let’s next compare monthly demand for the past three years for each of the above categories.

The first half of 2021 has seen a huge surge in online demand for shoes

Comparing monthly demand in 2021 to what we saw in 2020 and in 2019 will help paint a much clearer picture of how the long term effects of the pandemic have impacted consumer behavior. So let’s start with demand for shoes, which we in the previous section has been up big this year.

2021 saw online demand skyrocket in March, which during a pre-pandemic year was far from the height of shoe shopping season. Our best guess is that this may have been due to the initial rollouts of the vaccine, as more and more Americans began to venture back out after a year practicing social distancing.

After a brief dip in April, demand shot back up in May and has remained consistently high throughout the summer. We will definitely be keeping a closer eye on this category as the back to school shopping season closes and Labor Day weekend approaches.

Online demand for furniture and outdoor furniture was up in early 2021, returning to near 2020 levels

Now let’s take a look at online demand for both indoor and outdoor furniture.

During a pre-pandemic year, online demand for furniture was remarkably consistent. It rose slightly over the spring and summer, and was slower during the winter months.

In 2020 we saw a huge surge in online demand for furniture after millions of Americans spent a month or two isolating at home, many clearly decided to invest in some new furniture to spruce up their surroundings.

Interestingly, 2021 also saw a surge in online demand for furniture early in the year, this time in March. The driving force behind this one is less clear than in 2020. Perhaps people were preparing to host in-person gatherings at home.

Either way, demand in 2021 has remained above 2020 levels every month of the year so far, although at diminishing levels each month. Patio furniture and accessories have seen a very similar trend to their indoors counterparts.

As you’d expect, a normal year saw online demand for patio furniture peak even more during the summer months. This trend was particularly exaggerated in 2020, again, likely due to more Americans than ever spending almost all of their free time at home.

2021 has also seen online demand stay consistently higher than in 2020, particularly earlier in the spring. This may simply be due to people getting more used to making larger purchases online after last year, or it could be that even more people were interested in upgrading their backyard lounging situation to prepare for some huge post-lockdown parties.

Online demand for camping and hiking equipment continues to soar to new heights in 2021

Camping and hiking equipment may not have had the same kind of total increase in 2021 that shoes experienced, but there’s no question that Americans are venturing out in big numbers this year.

2020 saw demand dip somewhat during the first months of lockdown, but rebound to slightly above 2019 figures during the summertime. 2021, meanwhile, has been nothing but a consistent month-over-month increase in online demand for camping and hiking gear.

Our analysis of camping gear back in May showed early signs that 2021 was going to be a big year for the category, and that certainly hasn’t changed. In fact, August was the biggest month of the year for camping and outdoor gear back in 2019, so there’s no reason to believe that this month might be the biggest month for the category yet.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on each of these categories and more as the summer comes to a close and Labor Day weekend comes and goes.

A lesson for brands

Our data shows that Labor Day weekend may have only a moderate impact on online demand for key categories, but that COVID-19 has had a major impact.

Understanding the factors that influence consumer behavior can help brands better understand how to forecast demand for their products on online marketplaces, and even inform product design and marketing strategy.

For example, we may see Labor Day weekend continue to be a more modest weekend when it comes to online sales, as Americans have spent this past summer online shopping for new shoes and camping gear.

It could be, however, that last year was an anomaly, and that Labor Day weekend may drive a surge in online sales for some of these key categories.

To stay up to date on consumer behavior and ecommerce news, info, and trend analyses, be sure to subscribe to Pattern Insights on the right.

And, if you’d like to learn more about how you can best leverage our data to help your brand win online, holiday or not, schedule a demo today.

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How an Amazon SEO Agency Should Be Serving Your Brand

If you’re in the global ecommerce space, you are most likely aware of Amazon, and probably selling your products on the marketplace. With over $470 billion in sales in 2021 alone, Amazon stands as the third largest company in the world based on revenue. The ecommerce giant is a household name in the U.S. and working hard to grow its market share across five continents worldwide.

Having your products available on Amazon and being competitive there, though, are definitely two different things. If you want to really succeed on Amazon, you’ll need specialized insight into how Amazon works and how to make it work for you. So, for many brands, it’s a great idea to work with an Amazon Search Engine Optimization (SEO) agency.

At Pattern, Amazon SEO optimization service is one of our key competencies. We understand that technology, data-driven insights and expertise  are the most important tools brands can leverage to win top listing spots on digital marketplaces. With expert teams and years of experience, we help brands conquer the Profitability Death Spiral as they compete with other products and sellers online. We offer Amazon SEO agency services as a core solution to brands that need more resources to get ahead. 

What is an Amazon SEO Agency?

An Amazon SEO agency serves brands by improving their products’ rank and listing performance on Amazon. They make strategic decisions about ad spending and placement that lead to higher traffic, conversions, and revenue for ecommerce brands.

A great Amazon SEO Agency partner will:

Prioritize Your Success

Unfortunately, many Amazon SEO agencies profit in unfair ways from your brands’ perceived success based on the ROAS numbers they provide. This is done through including branded search terms in ROAS reports, which naturally skew listing performance

Let’s say, for instance, your brand is called “Annie’s” and you sell lollipops. Your brand has a very high likelihood of winning the top listing spots on Amazon for lollipop search terms that are paired with “Annie’s,” your brand name. So, SEO agencies will spend your ad money on those terms and report a very high ROAS. 

To avoid scenarios like these, it’s best to look for an agency that either calculates their profits on metrics other than your ROAS scores or weighs branded search terms differently in the performance metrics reports. Regardless of your Amazon SEO agency’s cost structure, you should align onbranded search terms before committing to a scope of work.

Provide Detailed Competitive Insight

A great indicator of a high-quality Amazon SEO agency is the level of insight they can provide into your competitors’ listing positioning and how it compares to yours. Data fanaticism is so important at Pattern that we’ve developed proprietary technology to display this exact information with precise detail for every brand we work with. In fact, you can find our free version here to see how you compare to some of your top competitors based on ASIN.

It’s certainly possible to improve your Amazon search performance with blind spending strategies. But a truly great solution will help you to know where your dollars are at their most powerful and competitive.

Reduce Your Ad Spend Over Time

Amazon’s A10 algorithm prioritizes customer satisfaction—it wants to show consumers the best products that align with their search intent to improve conversions and sales. So, the best way to gain momentum on Amazon is to work on incremental wins. 

Improving your performance on more obscure search terms that align with your customers’ search intent is a great way to increase ROAS for the long term. A10 will reward your success with better rankings on higher-volume search terms and the virtuous cycle can help you conquer your most-coveted listing spots. And the best part? This process of gaining momentum, if done right, will naturally decrease your ad spend over time as Amazon recognizes your value and works with you to keep your products at the top of consumers’ search results.

Amazon SEO Optimization and More

As an Amazon SEO specialist, Pattern knows how to help your brand win better success for long-term profitability on Amazon. With our data-driven tools and brilliant teams of ecommerce experts, we help brands with listing management, content optimization, Amazon ad strategies, and more.

Contact us to learn more about our SEO optimization services.

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