5 Vacation Trends To Watch For This Year Including Adult Toys
NEW YORK (AP) – The pandemic is making this a Christmas shopping season like no other.
Toy companies are targeting adults stuck at home with latte-smelling Play-Doh and Legos that transform into 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 double the job as shipping centers, trying to get gifts to your doorstep as quickly as possible.
Here’s what awaits you:
TOYS FOR ADULTS
It’s not just children who need fun. Toy companies target bored adults who are stuck at home during the pandemic. Need something to fidget about during your next Zoom meeting? Hasbro has new malleable Play Doh strains that smell like things adults would know: lattes, freshly cut grass and smoked meats.
Lego, on the other hand, wants adults to put on their headphones and “forget about the rest of the world” while turning the plastic pieces in their new kits into hanging art, like Andy Warhol’s famous Marilyn Monroe portraits.
Marissa DiBartolo, editor-in-chief of toy review site The Toy Insider, says she’s seen more coloring books and challenging puzzles designed for adults.
FROM YOUTUBE TO TOY STORE
Paw Patrol’s canines take better care of their tails. YouTube stars with millions of viewers head to the toy aisle, a place where TV cartoon characters reigned.
It’s all because kids spend so much time watching YouTube instead of cable TV, DiBartolo says. That has made the stars of the video streaming site just as recognizable as those of Nickelodeon.
Figures of Blippi, a man wearing orange suspenders and moderating educational videos for children on YouTube, are sold on Target and Amazon. At Walmart, toys featuring Ryan Kaji, a child who reviews toys on his YouTube channel Ryan’s World, are a big seller. Toy company VTech is playing on the trend in a different way, selling a KidiZoom Creator camera that comes with a green screen so kids can add special effects and pretend to be YouTube influencers themselves.
And if you need another sign of how big YouTube stars have become, a 13-meter-high balloon based on Kaji from Ryan’s World appeared in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday and floated alongside TV icons like SpongeBob and , yes, Chase from “Paw Patrol”.
BUSINESS AS A DELIVERY
Retailers like Walmart and Best Buy, who already used their locations as hubs for sending e-commerce orders, are now developing new strategies to get even faster. The steps come as they face a Christmas crisis that is expected to tax the shipping networks and likely lead to delivery delays.
Walmart launched a special program for the holidays this week. Some of its online orders are processed directly by stores with delivery services like Postmates and DoorDash instead of carriers like FedEx or UPS. The aim is for customers to receive their orders quickly on the same day.
Meanwhile, Best Buy says that 340 of its stores are specifically dedicated to handling higher volumes of online orders, even though all stores ship e-commerce packages. Their goal: The 340 branches should send more than 70% of their ship-from-store units in the holiday quarter.
And then, many small and medium-sized businesses are increasingly turning to micro-warehouse operators – mini-shipping centers located 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 sparkling tonic Olipop or provides software for third parties in 115 locations for e-commerce fulfillment in the USA. He says more brands are using his software because many can’t guarantee standard shipping by Christmas if items are ordered after the first week of December.
GIFTS FOR THE PUPPY
During the pandemic, more and more people were adopting puppies and kittens, and businesses are rushing to make money. Petco sells matching pajamas for dogs and their humans with snowflakes and Christmas trees. And Chewy, the online pet store, is getting more personal, putting pet names on bandanas, bowls or beds.
Consultancy Deloitte estimates that half of shoppers will spend some of their money on goodies and other items this Christmas season.
FORGET IMPULSE SHOPPING
It’s not just hectic crowds that will be missing this Christmas season. This also applies to impulse purchases – the practice of throwing in additional items such as toys or bath balm when shoppers walk in and out of the aisles.
Typically 25% of Christmas purchases are impulse based, according to Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor at NPD Group, a market research firm. This year, Cohen expects that number to drop to around 10% as shoppers dramatically shift their online shopping to avoid physical deals. And when they go to stores, customers buy with a purpose and get the things they need to minimize exposure to COVID-19
“Impulse shopping is the icing on the cake,” said Cohen. “That is the difference between a successful and a lucrative vacation.”