Even though it’s still October, stores and websites are already talking about their holiday shopping deals. New research shows the online and brick-and-mortar shopping experiences blending in some intriguing ways, with consequences for shoppers and workers. Here are key retail trends to watch:
A few years back, retailers fretted about "showrooming," where shoppers went to stores to look at products, but then headed home and bought them online. Now, something new is going on. Marketers and consultants call it "webrooming": Consumers look at products online then head out to the stores to make the actual purchase. A new shopper survey from Deloitte shows 69 percent of shoppers plan to do it this year.
“It really is interesting in terms of how the digital space and physical space is blended now in the shopping experience,” said Rod Sides, vice chair of Deloitte and leader of its U.S. retail and distribution practice.
More digital jobs
Deloitte forecasts respectable holiday sales, with growth of 3.5 percent to 4 percent from last year and online sales growing most robustly. This is having job-market consequences. For example, Amazon will hire 100,000 seasonal workers in 2015, up 25 percent from last year. Traditional retail hiring is largely flat or down.
“For workers it means different types of work,” explained John Challenger, CEO of outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “It doesn’t look as though jobs are really netting out disappearing, but you may be sitting on a phone in front of a computer desk rather than in front of a cashier going forward.”
Mobile commerce with your turkey
Stores that opened on Thanksgiving Day drew a lot of criticism in recent years for dragging store workers away from family time. This year, expect more retailers to seek Thanksgiving Day shoppers online. A new report from Adobe predicts 18 percent sales growth on that particular Thursday, with most of it coming from mobile purchases.
“For shoppers on Thanksgiving Day, they find the best thing for everyone is to pull out the mobile phone or the tablet, enjoy the football game and continue to take advantage of those great deals,” said Adobe Systems principal analyst Tamara Gaffney.