NEW YORK (AP) – The pandemic is turning this into a festive shopping season like no other.
Toy companies target home-stuck adults with a latte-scented Play-Doh and Leghos that become Warhol. Those who have added a puppy to their family in a pandemic can see plenty of gift opportunities for their new furry friend. As more and more people shop online, stores have a dual role as delivery centers to get gifts to the doorstep as quickly as possible.
You can expect the following:
GAMES FOR ADULTS
It’s not just kids who need to have fun. Toy companies target bored adults stuck at home during a pandemic. Need something to shake up for your next Zoom meeting? Hasbro has new formable Play-Doh varieties that smell like things recognized by adults: latte, freshly cut grass and smoked meat.
Lego, meanwhile, wants adults to pick up their headphones and “forget about the rest of the world” while turning plastic pieces from their new sets into hanging art like Andy Warhol’s famous Marilyn Monroe portraits.
Marissa DiBartolo, editor-in-chief of The Toy Insider’s game control site, said she saw several coloring books and challenging puzzles with adults in mind.
From YOUTUBE TO THE GAME SHOP
The “Paw Patrol” canines pay more attention to their tails. With millions of viewers, YouTube stars head toward the game corridor, where TV cartoon characters tend to dominate.
It’s all because kids spend so much time on YouTube instead of cable TV, DiBartolo says. This made the stars of the video-streaming site as recognizable as they were on Nickelodeon.
Blippi’s figures, who wear orange suspenders and direct educational children’s videos on YouTube, are offered by Target and Amazon. At Walmart, toys featuring a kid reviewing toys on Ryan World World’s channel, Ryan Kaji, were big sellers. Game maker VTech is playing a different role in the trend by selling a KidiZoom Creator camera with a green screen so kids can add special effects and pretend to be influencers on YouTube themselves.
And if you need another sign of how many YouTube stars they have become, a 42-foot-tall (13-foot-tall) balloon appeared based on Ryan’s World Kaji on Thursday at Macy’s Thanksgiving parade hovering over TV icons like SpongeBob and yes, Chase from “Paw Patrol”.
STORAGE TO TRANSPORT SOUNDS
Retailers, including Walmart and Best Buy, which already use e-commerce order delivery as their hub, are now coming up with new strategies to make it even faster. The steps occur when a holiday is faced with difficulties that are expected to tax shipping networks and likely cause delays in transportation.
Walmart launched a special program for the holidays this week. Some of your online orders are placed directly from stores that use shipping services like Postmates and DoorDash instead of shippers like FedEx or UPS. The goal is to ensure that customers can get their orders quickly, even on the same day.
Meanwhile, Best Buy says its 340 stores are specifically dedicated to handling larger volumes of online orders, although all of its stores deliver e-commerce packages. Its goal is for the 340 stores to deliver more than 70% of the ship-shop units during the holiday quarter.
And then many small and medium-sized businesses are increasingly turning to micro-warehouse operators – mini-transport centers in urban areas – to help pack and deliver goods. Ben Jones is the CEO and founder of Ohi, which operates five micro-warehouses for various brands, such as the champagne tonic Olipop, or provides software to third parties at 115 locations to complete e-commerce in the United States. He says he has seen several brands using his software because many cannot guarantee delivery by Christmas with standard delivery if they order products after the first week of December.
GIFTS FOR THE BOOK
Several welcomed puppies and kittens during the pandemic, and shops are forced to shop. Petco sells matching pajamas to dogs and their people with snowflakes and Christmas trees. And Chewy, the online pet store, is becoming more and more personal, writing the names of pets in bandanas, bowls, or beds.
Consulting firm Deloitte expects half of its customers to spend part of their money on pets and other supplies this holiday season.
FORGET THE PULSE PURCHASE
Not only is the rampant crowd missing this festive season. So will impulse buying – the practice of throwing in extra items such as toys or bath balms when shoppers walk in and out of hallways.
Marshal Cohen, senior industry consultant at market research firm NPD Group, says 25% of holiday purchases are based on impulse. This year, Cohen said he expects that number to drop to about 10% as shoppers dramatically change their online purchases to avoid physical stores. And when they go to stores, customers buy for some purpose and pick up the things they need while trying to minimize COVID-19 exposure
“The impulse buying is the icing on the cake,” Cohen said. “That’s the difference between a successful profitable holiday and a ho hum holiday.” ___
We’ve updated this story to fix that Petco offers the right pajamas for owners and dogs, not the right sweaters.