The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired a plethora of freshly coined words. From maskie to quarantini, 2020 is chock-full of new entries for our collective vocabularies.
Few industries love fresh terms like retail, so as you slog through the final few days of the holiday shopping season, here’s some vocab to make you sound as hip as any shopping analyst.
- Guilt gifting: This refers to spending money on gifts because you feel bad about not seeing the recipient in person. The motivation is enough to make a mark on your credit card bill. Research by the NPD Group finds that 40% of consumers planned to purchase more gifts “to bring joy during challenging times.”
- Revenge shopping: As Shakespearean as it sounds, this actually involves minimum vengeance and maximum Visa (or Mastercard or Amex). Pent-up demand is what fuels these purchases; perhaps the revenge is on fate, which has kept people stuck at home and away from traditional shopping locations. The term first came to the fore in the spring when observers noticed the phenomenon in China after people there got out of quarantine.
- BOPIS: Not to be confused with the Filipino dish. This retail industry acronym stands for “buy online, pick up in store.” It’s not unique to the COVID-19 era, but with so few days left before Christmas, you can forget about FedEx, UPS, DHL, or the U.S. Postal Service. Either rely on Santa and his reindeer’s traditional delivery service or get thee to your local store for an inside or curbside pickup. According to Adobe Analytics’ most recent data, BOPIS/curbside pickup is up 140% growth year over year.
- PVOD: This is short for “premium video on demand.” It’s how some studios are releasing their new films during the pandemic, when few people are venturing out to traditional movie theaters. The term marks a new way to buy a night out or an experience for yourself or your family—and with so many people stuck at home, purchasing something to do is as important as ordering a new home desk chair. Deloitte Insights data from October found that 35% of Americans paid a streaming service to watch a new release via PVOD, usually around $20.
It’s not surprising that the retail space is rife with new terms. Shopping is one of the oldest and most pervasive human activities.
“Necessity is the mother of invention. That’s what’s happening here,” explains Ashwani Monga, a Rutgers Business School professor of marketing. “For the retail industry, they were under the onslaught of online, but it was happening gradually, not a big flood. What we have is like a 100-year flood, which changes people and generations moving forward.”
He expects the shifts in consumer activity will be permanent, like those after the Great Depression; foot traffic in stores, for example, is not going to skyrocket after the pandemic.
National retail expert Jan Rogers Kniffen agrees. Retailers are always under enormous pressure, as they compete for a chunk of consumers’ spending on food, clothing, toiletries, toys, furniture, entertainment items, etc. Many of the retail changes overhauling the industry now were already budding.
“Every day, we reset the stage and raise the curtain. . . . You don’t have a choice. The customer makes you do new things all the time or they’ll go next door,” he says. “COVID was an accelerant. It’s poured gas on the fire.”