JOSEPH PISANI and AN DINOCENCIO,,
November 26, 2020 16:45
NEW YORK (AP) – The pandemic is turning this into a holiday shopping season like no other.
Toy companies are targeting the rest of the home, which has grown up with latte-scented Play-Doh and Legos, which are becoming Warhols. Those who added a puppy to their family during the pandemic will see tons of gift options for their new furry friend. And as more people shop online, stores perform double duties as transportation hubs to try to get gifts to the doorstep as quickly as possible.
Here’s what to expect:
TOYS FOR ADULTS
Lego, meanwhile, wants adults to put on their headphones and “forget about the rest of the world” as they turn plastic pieces into new kits into art that can be hooked, like Marilyn Monroe’s famous portraits of Andy Warhol.
Marisa DiBartolo, editor-in-chief of the toy review site The Toy Insider, says she has seen more coloring books and challenging puzzles designed with adults in mind.
FROM YOUTUBE TO THE TOY STORE
Paw Patrol canines better monitor their tails. YouTube stars with millions of viewers are heading to the toy trail, a place where cartoon characters once ruled.
That’s because kids spend so much time watching YouTube instead of cable TV, DiBartolo says. This made the stars of the video streaming site as recognizable as those of Nickelodeon.
The figurines of Blippi, a man who wears orange suspenders and hosts educational children’s videos on YouTube, are sold on Target and Amazon. At Walmart, toys starring Ryan Kaji, a kid who reviews toys on his Ryan YouTube channel, are hot sellers. Toy company VTech is playing the trend in another way, selling a KidiZoom Creator camera that comes with a green screen so that children can add special effects and pretend to be influential on YouTube themselves.
And if you need another sign of how big YouTube stars have become, a 42-foot (13-meter) balloon based on Kaji from Ryan’s world appeared in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on Thursday. floating next to TV icons like SpongeBob and, yes, Paw Patrol Chase.
SHOPS AS SUPPLY HUBS
Retailers, including Walmart and Best Buy, who have already used their locations as e-commerce order centers, are now devising new strategies to make it even faster. The moves come as they face a festive crisis that is expected to tax the transport networks and is likely to lead to delays in supplies.
Walmart launched a special holiday program this week. With it, some of the online orders are executed directly from stores that use delivery services such as Postmates and DoorDash instead of operators such as FedEx or UPS. The goal is to ensure that customers will be able to receive their orders quickly, even on the same day.
Best Buy, meanwhile, says 340 of its stores are specifically designated to handle more online orders, even though all of its stores deliver e-commerce packages. Its goal: 340 stores to send more than 70% of their shipping units through the stores during the holiday quarter.
And then there are many small and medium-sized enterprises that are increasingly turning to micro-warehouse operators – mini shipping hubs that are located in urban areas to help with the packaging and delivery of goods. Ben Jones is the CEO and founder of Ohi, which manages five micro-warehouses for various brands such as Olipop foaming tonic or provides third-party software at 115 e-commerce outlets in the United States. He says he has seen more brands using their software because many cannot guarantee delivery by Christmas through standard delivery if the items are ordered after the first week of December.
GIFTS FOR POOCH
More people have adopted puppies and kittens during the pandemic, and shops are hoping to make money. Petco sells suitable pajamas for dogs and their people with snow scales and Christmas trees. And Chewy, the online pet store, is becoming more personal, writing pet names in bandanas, bowls or beds.
Consulting firm Deloitte expects half of buyers to spend some of their money on pet treats and other supplies this holiday season.
FORGET ABOUT PULSE SHOPPING
Not only crazy crowds will be absent this holiday season. So will impulse shopping – the practice of throwing away extra items like toys or bath conditioners as shoppers get in and out of the aisles.
Typically, 25% of holiday shopping is based on impulses, according to Marshall Cohen, chief industry adviser at NPD Group, a market research firm. This year, Cohen said he expects the figure to drop to about 10 percent as shoppers drastically redirect their purchases online to avoid physical stores. And when they go to the stores, customers will buy on purpose, taking the things they need while trying to minimize exposure to COVID-19.
“Impulse shopping is the icing on the cake,” Cohen said. “This is the difference between a successful winning holiday and a homer holiday.”