As the 2016 holiday shopping season kicks off on Black Friday, the trends to watch for include some that are a bit wacky. The AP looks at four trends for the season:
- Hot toys: This year's "it" toy: Hatchimals. When a child strokes the egg, it starts to hatch into a stuffed bird-like creature. The child's interaction with the pet trains it to play games and repeat words. Made by Spin Master, they run $59.99. "If you have to pick one toy this year, this is it," says Jim Silver, editor-in-chief of TTPM.com, an online toy review site. "It's the whole excitement of the hatching process." He says other hot toys include items related to the animated series PJ Masks and Paw Patrol.
- Tacky Christmas sweaters: There's not much sizzle in the overall clothing market. But one bright spot is tacky holiday sweaters. The trend—often ironic—has been growing for a while, but some stores think it's going to resonate with shoppers even more this year after a contentious presidential race. "Everyone's looking for some comic relief," says Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD Group Inc.
- Lean inventories: Shoppers may not get the kinds of discounts they saw last year. Walmart, Target, and others are heading into the holiday season with leaner inventories than a year ago. That could help prevent them from getting stuck with lots of holiday leftovers to clear. But it could be bad news for consumers.
- App fatigue: Stores like Macy's and Walmart have been improving their apps, and Walmart is making its Black Friday circular available through its app. But some shoppers are getting choosier about which ones they make space for on their smartphones. Gartner researchers say that 41% of consumers polled have the same number of apps as a year ago, but 20% have reduced the amount as they prioritize the most useful ones.
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