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Report: 12 Trends Expected This Holiday Shopping Season

Now that summer’s nearing its end and the bulk of back-to-school has passed, retail has its sights set on holiday and experts are calling out 12 trends that will shape the shopping season.

On the wish list for most consumers this year? Omnishopping.

Shoppers will be shopping anywhere, anytime and they’ll want their goods made available in whichever way may be most convenient at the time. Though none of that’s news, a new report from internet marketing firm Criteo—which analyzed e-commerce shopping behavior, search terms and shopping carts last year—has 12 predictions for the coming season.

1. Nostalgia is the new black

Consumers are craving retro when it comes to their purchases, and though Criteo’s top gifts of 2016 don’t include apparel, the fact that portable record players, Nintendo DS and Legos topped the list is proof that shoppers are looking for nostalgia—except in the areas in which they’ll have a more futuristic mindset.

“This year we expect the nostalgia trend to go even broader, with the re-introduction of classic Kodak film and personal printers and people lean towards the tangible,” the report noted. “The hot new tech under many trees? It’s finally time for a family TV upgrade to 4k, those now more affordable VR goggles and perhaps life would be easier with a voice activated assistant who also plays holiday songs.”

2. The path to purchase will start earlier

Shoppers are spending earlier and earlier, with last year seeing the largest converted cart sizes in early November. Retailers should consider offering personalized ads for the best sales in line with that timing.

“Since shoppers start browsing early, you need to raise your CPCs [cost-per-click] accordingly to start building a strong cookie pool to ensure you stay top of mind with shoppers when they are ready to buy,” Criteo noted.

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3. Gifting will happen in three stages

Between early November and Cyber Monday, shoppers are in stage 1, buying larger gifts and cart sizes are at the maximum in terms of value. From early December to the third week of the month, shoppers are doing stage 2 “fill in” shopping, or buying products that aren’t so big ticket, like gifts for friends and colleagues.

“Although cart values are not as high as stage 1, the number of items in the cart is larger, and impulse purchasing plays a role,” the report noted.

Stage 3 shopping happens the last week before Christmas, when the procrastinators come out and purchasing peaks. At that time, free shipping will be more important to shoppers than discounts.

4. Thanksgiving Day shopping will happen at home

For a minute there, opening stores on Thanksgiving Day became a thing to do, and more stores started following early adopters of those extended hours in order to keep up. Now, however, stores are opting to stay closed and give their staff the holiday to be with the family as a sort of value statement—which has meant gains for e-commerce.

“Criteo data shows that people take a break to eat but get back to shopping in the late afternoon hours. Expect this to continue in 2017 with big growth in sales from 4:00 p.m. Thanksgiving onwards as more stores heed the call of enabling employees to celebrate this family holiday,” according to the report.

5. A big Cyber Monday will lead to “Bounceback Tuesday”

Cyber Monday, the Monday after Black Friday, may still be the biggest e-commerce shopping day of the year, but its growth as a powerful sales driver has slowed as retailers push discount windows earlier in the holiday season.

“In time, Cyber Monday and Black Friday may become less influential. But, with so many people shopping on Cyber Monday, it adds data on undecided (but high-intent shoppers) to the cookie pool for retargeting on Tuesday,” the report noted. “We see big spikes in conversions on what we call Bounceback Tuesday.”

6. Retail’s early movers will determine when Black Friday is

There may be an actual date for Black Friday, but big retailers that want to start it early could drive a change in that date.

“Last year, when Walmart decided that Black Friday deals started on November 18th—a full week before Thanksgiving—it caught some merchants and brands off-guard. The volume of activity they generated was so great that it flooded the entire online marketplace with eager shoppers,” Criteo said. “Since our data shows that a high number of people shop across sites, brands should be prepared for surprise sale announcements and reap the benefits.”

7. Expect a Cyber Week II

The slew of shoppers gifting gift cards are giving rise to what Criteo calls “Cyber Week II,” the period from Christmas Day through New Year’s when recipients go to exchange their giftcards for goods.

“It’s essential that brands and retailers continue their advertising presence to take advantage of impulse purchasing when shoppers use gift cards and spend big,” the report noted. “In fact, on New Year’s Eve, cart sizes were at levels equal to those seen around Black Friday.”

8. Shoppers will go mobile for weekend shopping

Though they may be out and about on Saturdays and Sundays, Criteo says its seen mobile sales spike on the weekends.

“Shoppers who are out and about on Saturdays may see items they want in store and decide to skip the line and purchase on their phones. In terms of the time of day, e-commerce activity overall peaks on Sunday evenings, likely due to a similar offline to online dynamic,” the report noted. “During holiday shopping periods, people keep items in their persistent carts as they shop across sites during the week or see the merchandise in person on the weekend. They are finally ready to click the “buy” button as their weekend ends.”

9. Omnichannel is the new normal

Seamless shopping has been the only way to go for some time now—whether retailers have caught on or not.

Looking at consumers’ omnishopping behaviors, 66 percent browse online then buy in a store, 61 percent order online and collect in a store, 38 percent buy on their phone from within a retail store on another retailer’s website (e.g. Amazon), 74 percent buy online after seeing the product in stores, and 39 percent buy on their phones from within a retail store from that same retailer’s website.

10. Click & Collect, Click & Ship to blossom

Whether consumers are cozying up to click & collect or not, retailers are pushing it because it saves them on shipping and gives them a chance to upsell the shopper. Click & ship, or buying in store and then having the merchandise shipped, can help brands increase profitability by not having to stock every shape and size, and both programs, according to Criteo, will get even bigger. According to Criteo data, 79 percent of online shoppers use in-store pickup if it’s offered and 71 percent make an additional purchase while picking up.

11. It’s about the shopper, not the device

Brands will have to do better to connect with their consumers this holiday.

According to Criteo, nearly 60 percent of shoppers want to be able to start an order on one platform and finish it on another, and 64 percent want offline store associates to be able to access their online cart and modify it or complete the order in the store.

12. Retail in the U.S. is facing a renaissance

What’s old in the ways of retail can’t carry on and retailers that don’t figure that out will have to learn the hard way.

“Driven in part by the Amazon juggernaut and the rise of e-commerce overall, brands and retailers are rediscovering what made them special to begin with. Experiential retail is the wave of today with stores sharpening focus, featuring more unique merchandise and encouraging shoppers to engage with the store and personnel,” Criteo said.