End-of-year holidays, including Christmas, have been massive drivers for U.S. businesses for years. In 2018 alone, U.S. consumers spent more than $700 billion on holiday-related purchases. This type of spending helps prop up seasonal businesses of all kinds.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, however, many holiday-focused companies have needed to change their business models or services to ensure safety or meet changing consumer preferences. For example, many now offer virtual ways to interact with businesses.
Here are six holiday-themed businesses that have adapted to meet the challenges of the pandemic.
Christmas tree delivery
Throughout the years, Christmas trees have remained a popular staple for holiday decorations. Trees are regularly sold on roadsides and street corners at an average price of $76 per tree, so people can quickly get a tree for their homes. But the pandemic has pushed many consumers to opt for home delivery, and Christmas tree operators have noticed.
This year, major hardware and home stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot are both offering free delivery for Christmas trees via online ordering. Additionally, smaller companies are offering Christmas trees delivered to front doors, such as Lake City, Michigan-based Brown’s Tree Farm. Brown’s Tree Farm says it lets consumers pick the size and type of tree they want, and then the staff cuts down the tree, packages it and ships it off to your door.
Drive-thru holiday attractions
While drive-through winter wonderlands—where families in cars can take in holidays lights and attractions—existed before the pandemic, more are springing up as a way for people to enjoy the holidays safely in 2020. The seventh annual Westchester Winter Wonderland Holiday Light Extravaganza in New York has been converted this year into a 1.2-mile drive-thru to keep people in their cars. The trail will have “lights, holiday displays, characters, attractions, and Santa Claus.”
In some cases, entirely new experiences are being built to meet the moment, such as Los Angeles-based WonderLAnd. The team behind it is building out what is effectively a “drivable North Pole.” Families can expect “holiday lights synchronized to music, elves, candy canes, the Clauses, an installation devoted to holidays around the world, built-out sets, tree forest and plenty of photo-worthy moments.”
“We hope we can keep some of that family theater tradition alive through virtual events.”
Dayna Martinez, senior programming director at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts
Holiday party catering
Catering businesses have been hurt dramatically by the pandemic due to most large events in 2020 being canceled. But some caterers have creatively adapted to the times, especially when it comes to holiday parties. These parties are mostly being held virtually, so high-quality food is instead individually packaged so people can enjoy it at their homes while taking in the virtual events.
San Francisco-based caterer Burke & Black had business stop when the pandemic started, but it has now pivoted for the holidays by “offering individual and group-size boxes filled with artisan fruit, nuts, cheeses and charcuterie.”
“Virtual galas, virtual meetings, virtual happy hours, we’ll take special orders and deliver,” owner Nicole Burke told ABC 7. “Now it’s a lot of volume, but we still want to keep that attention to detail.”
Online holiday music performances
Holiday music continues to be a big part of what makes the season special each year. But due to the pandemic, in-person gatherings where people watch performances or sing together have been mainly canceled. Live online events have instead been introduced in order to keep people safe while still experiencing a part of regular holiday traditions.
For example, the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, Minnesota, will put on three virtual performances for the holidays. “Attending a holiday musical or concert at the Ordway is a tradition for so many families. While our theater remains closed this holiday season, we are delivering virtual holiday productions for families of all ages to watch together,” Dayna Martinez, senior programming director at the Ordway, told Bring Me The News. “We hope we can keep some of that family theater tradition alive through virtual events.”
Virtual gift shopping
Small businesses and gift shops that traditionally offer holiday gifts have had to change their regular routines in 2020. Some stores are offering goods online for the first time, while others have added the ability for customers to shop with a real person showing inventory remotely.
Collierville, Tennessee-based gift store Brooks Collection, for example, has added virtual shopping options for consumers who don’t feel comfortable looking at the store’s selection of pottery, gifts and home goods. Owner Watty Brooks Hall offers FaceTime appointments to walk people through the store, and she plans to post more items on her Instagram and Facebook social media pages. “We deliver. We ship. We do curbside,” Hall told USA Today. “It’s just trying to keep a small business alive is what it boils down to.”
Virtual Santa visits
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s probably no surprise to hear that in-person Santa Claus visits have mostly been canceled. For example, Macy’s Santa Claus won’t be available in-person after nearly 160 years of the store offering the experience and will only be doing virtual visits.
New businesses have been created to offer Santa virtually as well, including Alpharetta, Georgia-based JingleRing. The company has created a platform that can support “millions of Santa virtual visits across all time zones throughout the world.” JingleRing also wants to use the opportunity to potentially improve upon the average mall Santa visit by being able to customize for the occasion, with “preferences for language, ethnicity, faith, and even Sensitive Santa for families with special needs children.”
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Published November 04, 2020