5 Holiday Shopping Trends Shaking Things Up

Holiday Shopping Trends

Holiday Shopping Trends

Holiday shopping innovation continues apace with the blizzard of new gadgets and gizmos available on the market.

Have you noticed this, too? These changing shopping trends are a reflection of social and economic trends bumping together similar to the confluence of moisture and cold air that creates a fierce Nor’easter winter storm.

Unlike the destruction a winter storm can bring, these holiday shopping trends are all very positive for the consumer. None of them require you to de-ice your car or shovel the sidewalk, either!

Let’s look at five trends that continue to surprise and delight — and will shape the holiday shopping landscape for a long time to come.

1) Pop-Up Shops

“Pop-up shops” are a recent trend that shows no signs of slowing. The fact that this trend is spreading and evolving is great for holiday shoppers looking for a unique gift and/or experience.

Once conceived as short-term, specialty retail — think high-end mass retailer concept store meets deserted urban storefront — the pop-up phenomenon is being embraced by nearly everyone. For example, micro-businesses in small towns are using pop-up shops — even pop-up restaurants — as an economic driver and placemaking tool. The small scale and short duration allows entrepreneurs to test the idea and the location, all while building some dramatic word-of-mouth.

As SQFT, a company that matches entrepreneurs with empty spaces, writes, “Ground level retail will completely change in the coming years, that’s exciting for new ideas and old spaces.”

As you’ll see, trend #3 — mobile shopping — makes finding and promoting these pop-ups possible.

2) Experiential Gifts

One hundred years ago the shopping slogan was “Say it with flowers,” but today that might be a snappy slogan which essentially says, “Say it by doing something interesting or meaningful.”

Americans are increasingly forgoing purchasing “things” and instead focusing on purchasing “experiences.” Millennials in particular are expanding this trend, and they happen to be the largest population group, now eclipsing the Baby Boomers.

Holidays might have once been spent with your family in a fancy restaurant — today’s holiday gathering might be a trip somewhere exotic in lieu of gifts, or volunteering. Said to have originated in England in the 1990s, experiential gifts are now a growing industry. Many specialized companies are willing to help you organize and plan an experiential holiday gift. Two examples are Cloud9 and Xperience Days.

Trend #1 plays into this experiential gift wave, and you can probably already guess the importance of trend #3.

Mobile Shopping

3) Mobile Shopping

Smartphones are changing everything all over again — especially now that more than 50% of the U.S. population owns a smartphone and some are as inexpensive as $20/month.

Mobile shopping includes everything from actions to apps. For example, it’s now possible to snap your family photo using your smartphone and then immediately order your Christmas photo cards right from the phone, too.

Smartphone apps are making it easier, faster, and cheaper to discover holiday gifts. For example, here are just three apps radically remaking the holiday shopping experience. Sundrop Reward Card app replaces all of your pesky reward cards and sends personalized coupon offers to you. Point Inside makes it easy for you to quickly locate stores, kiosks, terminal gates, handicap elevators, full-feature restrooms, escalators, and many various services for guests in over 805 airports & malls (duty-free shopping, cha-ching!).

Why stop at real-world shops and shopping? It is literally possible to use an app called MyTown2 to move shops between your “virtual” city and your friends’ “virtual” cities and buy virtual holiday gifts — for real-life cash money!

No joke, these apps are just the beginning!

4) Locally Made/Owned

There is a growing movement of independent businesses and entrepreneurship since the Great Recession of 2008. Moreover, this trend is climbing amongst nearly every demographic and in cities large and small. I witnessed this first-hand as the co-owner of a neighborhood grocery started after a job loss.

Trends #1-3 are meshing with a shift towards relocalization of our economy. This is a large and exciting change — and it will continue to influence holiday shopping for years to come.


5) Artisan/Craftsperson Made

In the middle of this shift toward economic relocalization you’ll find a resurgence of locally made products, such as craft beer and artisan cheese. This burgeoning localization makes holiday shopping more unique nearly everywhere across America.

As Sara Horowitz writes in The Atlantic, “The values of this generation of independent-minded workers aren’t wild and new. Instead, they represent a return to the values we abandoned at the height of the industrial revolution.”

In other words, it’s trends #1-4 colliding with the changing economy experienced in trend #5.

What do all these trends mean for the Ghosts of Christmas Future?

Well, a number of good things for the consumer: faster information and greater social and economic connection, just to start. Hopefully, these trends will also mean more opportunities for gift-givers and receivers alike.

And yes, these trends will ensure a stocking full of gifts (or experiences) to close out this year and prepare for the next.

Katie McCaskey is a freelance  journalist of small business who writes for Vistaprint, a leading provider of custom holiday cards, photo cards, calendars and countless other personalized gifts this holiday season.Katie is also co-owner of George Bowers Grocery, a neighborhood grocery/café/beer garden in Staunton, Virginia.

PHOTO: Christine Zenino http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrissy575/4360703985/

PHOTO: Phil Campbell

PHOTO: Roberto Verzo

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