Retails trends in store for retailers and shoppers this shortened holiday retail season include an earlier start to holiday promotions, new collaborations to shorten delivery windows and pare their cost, a proliferation of pop-up stores, and the growing popularity of resale goods as gifts, according to a new report from CBRE. 

CBRE’s annual Holiday Retail Trends Guide delves into factors that will influence the U.S. retail market as it posts an anticipated 4 percent sales gain this November and December from last year’s season, according to the National Retail Federation’s forecast. CBRE and others anticipate that consumer spending will stay resilient despite uncertainty about international trade and a slowdown in global economic growth. E-commerce sales are expected to grow at a 11 percent to 14 percent clip this season.

“In anticipation of a shorter holiday shopping season, retailers started transforming their stores, websites and branding almost immediately after Halloween,” said Todd Folger of CBRE’s Phoenix office. “And while the shopping season is six days shorter than it was last year, retailers got out in front of that challenge and consumers responded by spending money online and in-store before Black Friday. In Phoenix, there were some anxious moments leading up to Black Friday as retailers wondered if bad weather was going to wreak havoc on Black Friday shopping. Thankfully, the weather cleared before the morning hours and the holiday shopping season got off to a great start here in Arizona.” 

CBRE’s report outlines four trends shaping the season as it unfolds: 

Lightning-Round Season 

This holiday season is the shortest since 2013, with only 26 shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That led many stores to begin their holiday promotions earlier than usual, including one major discount retailer promoting deals on toys, electronics, home goods and sporting goods on Oct. 25.

“It’s important to keep in mind that most consumers approach holiday shopping with a budget, not a calendar,” said Folger. “Consumers will have the same amount of money to spend on gifts regardless of the length of the shopping season.”

Pop-Up Stores Are Here to Stay 

Retail centers and retailers alike have honed their strategies of using multiple pop-up stores to generate customer traffic, introduce new merchandise and test new concepts. Some are doing so for the first time.  

Many Solutions to the Delivery Dilemma 

Retailers are pursuing multiple strategies to both provide same- or next-day delivery and do so at a manageable cost. Many of their solutions entail enticing the customer to pick up their order at a store or third-party location, including drug stores, craft-store chains, dollar stores and even auto-parts stores.

Resale Now a Gifting Option 

Resale shops and websites have made inroads as gift-buying destinations, even for luxury items. An Accenture survey found that 48 percent of consumers would buy pre-owned apparel and accessories as gifts. The survey also found that 56 percent would accept pre-owned merchandise as gifts this season.

One strategy being employed by luxury resellers, among other retailers, this season is a ‘buy now, pay later’ system in which shoppers can enroll in short-term, flexible payment programs to finance big-ticket purchases. 

“Shoppers have more options than ever this season, whether in stores, online or, increasingly, a combination of the two,” said Anthony Buono, CBRE Global President, Retail. “The physical store remains the dominant venue for holiday shopping, especially as retailers improve the experience they offer customers with pop-up stores, on-site events, loyalty rewards and other incentives.”

To read the full report, click here.