Five holiday predictions

In advance of the 2018 holiday rush, here are five predictions for the upcoming shopping season from Ryne Misso, director of marketing for Market Track, a provider of market intelligence solutions:

*Stores reclaiming their place under the tree
Holiday 2017 saw a resurgence in enthusiasm towards Black Friday in-store shopping. The resurgence was attributed to several factors, from a strengthening economy, to retailers removing timing restrictions on their sale events. Another factor that should gain even more traction during holiday 2018 is retailers using their physical store locations as value differentiators.

We expect to see more in-store events (like Walmart’s holiday parties in 2017), more opportunities for shoppers to demo new products (like Best Buy’s VR demos in 2017), and other creative experiences that shoppers can only enjoy by visiting a store location.

*Voice commerce will become more than just a blip on the radar
Amazon sold more than one million smart home devices on Prime Day this year. Alexa technology has penetrated a huge number of American households—enough so that voice commerce may drive a relevant portion of sales during the upcoming holiday season. Look for Amazon to incentivize holiday shopping through Alexa-connected devices, further training the US consumer base on how to use voice commerce to meet their needs regularly.

*Would you like a turkey with that Echo?
As we saw in the lead up to Prime Day, Amazon has fully embarked on incentivizing cross-shopping between and Whole Foods stores. Between the spend $10, get $10 promotional incentive for Prime Day, and the launch of Prime delivery at Whole Foods locations in close to 40 cities, grocery is irrevocably a focus for Amazon.

We don’t anticipate that changing during the holiday shopping season. Expect Amazon to offer Black Friday shopping incentives to those shopping for their Thanksgiving feasts at Whole Foods, and vice versa. And don’t be surprised to see grocery and durables products included in the same holiday promotion, such as a free Echo Dot with the purchase of a turkey at Whole Foods.

*Walmart will enhance holiday shopping experience using stores and technology
Walmart’s strong 2018 is a testament to the continued development of their omnichannel offerings, and they’re not slowing down heading into holiday. In addition to the re-launch of the site, expect to see Walmart push the envelope this holiday season by integrating their stores with their announced technology enhancements.

Among these new experiences could be catching a driverless ride to a holiday store party (via Walmart’s work with Waymo), Black Friday-specific click & collect fulfillment, in-store Thanksgiving cooking demos, and other experiences that offer shoppers experiences that Amazon cannot.

*Pulling forward New Year’s resolutions
Over the past few holiday shopping seasons, we’ve seen retailers knocking down barriers and stocking categories outside their normal purview in order to drive holiday traffic. Think Kohl’s offering flat-screen TVs, or grocery stores offering an expanded assortment of toys & games. This trend is sure to continue this holiday season, but also expand to hot consumer categories, such as health and wellness. Look for retailers to jump on the health and wellness trend by not only expanding their assortment in the category, but also by partnering with popular health and wellness experience brands like SoulCycle, CorePower, or Orangetheory on holiday-specific promotions that incentivize cross-shopping.