3 trends to watch as retailers prepare for back to school and holiday shopping

Pedestrians watch the holiday windows of a store in New York, on Thursday, December. 2, 2021.

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The summer holiday season has just begun, but retailers are already preparing for the holidays.

In the coming weeks, companies will get early clues as to how the hottest holiday shopping season is shaping up as Amazon hosts Prime Day on July 12 and 13 and rival retailers including Target hold sales. This will be followed by a busy back-to-school shopping period, which is another indication of how the holidays are doing.

The trends that retailers are discovering starting next month could indicate how much people might want to spend during the holidays, as well as what kind of products they’ll want to spend, said Rob Garve, vice president and general manager of retail at Salesforce, one of the programs. The company that also tracks retailers’ shopping trends.

A complex sales forecast for this year’s holiday season is driving up prices for gas, groceries, and other household needs that reduce how much people might spend on gifts.

To anticipate how these factors will affect shopping behavior, Salesforce has made forecasts for the upcoming holiday season based on two of its reports. Its quarterly Shopping Index analyzes the online activity of more than a million people in dozens of countries, focusing on 12 major markets including the United States.

Here are three of Salesforce’s predictions, according to a report released Tuesday:

Shoppers at the King of Prussia Mall in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, Dec. 11. 4, 2021.

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Christmas in July?

Expect your under-the-bed holiday gift set to start early.

Over the past two yearsAnd the People started shopping before Black Friday due to concerns about shipping delays and shelf depletion. This year, people will be looking to stock up on discounts and beat price hikes, according to Salesforce.

42% more shoppers worldwide and 37% in the US said they plan to start buying gifts early as a way to get better deals — the biggest change in inflation-related behavior that Salesforce noted in its research.

For some, this could mean that Christmas shopping will begin in July as people jump on deals during Amazon Prime Day and competing sales. Others may try to load gifts as retailers including Target and Gap discount items to offload unwanted inventory they’ve hoarded during the pandemic.

Christmas Week shoppers walk past signs displaying discounts at the Montebello Shopping Center in Montebello, California on December 22, 2016.

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The price is above all

Helpful shoppers have been showing off their sofas over the past two holiday seasons. Now they’ll take a closer look at the price tags – and go elsewhere if they don’t like what they’re seeing.

Garf said value is expected to trump loyalty and convenience this holiday season.

Half of shoppers are expected to switch brands to save money, according to Salesforce. This translates to 2.5 billion shoppers worldwide who may decide against a product in favor of one that better fits their budget.

Garf said that to avoid having to compete on low prices alone, retailers should create a buzz by offering exclusive items or in limited quantities, or turning on trendy features, such as product sustainability.

Otherwise, he said, retailers’ profits could take a big hit if they cut too soon and too often. And their profits are already shrinking, he said, due to rising costs for fuel, labor and other things.

The NFT is announced during the CoinDesk Consensus Festival 2022 in Austin, Texas, US, on Thursday, June 9, 2022. The festival showcases all aspects of the blockchain, crypto, NFT, and Web 3 systems and their wide-ranging impact on commerce, culture and societies.

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Dear Santa, I like NFT

None of the hot gift items for this holiday season will be tucked away in stockings or under Christmas trees.

Non-fungible tokens, or unique digital assets that are stored using blockchain technology, will be on the list for more people this year, according to Salesforce. 46 percent of shoppers told Salesforce they would consider gifting a virtual copy of a physical item or digital collectible.

About half a million NFTs are expected to be purchased from retailers between November and December, which translates to a total market value of $54 million, according to Salesforce. Although NFTs have become more popular in recent years, some experts are still skeptical that they are a good investment.

However, Garf NFTs compared the popularity of savings bonds in the 1980s, as people offered bonds with the intention of increasing their value over the years. Think of NFTs as being about the high-tech at that, he said.

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