Popping Up for the Holidays: E-tailers Are Making the Leap Offline for Seasonal Shoppers

It’s a short holiday season this year, with fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas than usual. With the cramped shopping season, a trip to the store is feeling pretty harried and rushed for Millennials, who are also often more comfortable buying gifts from behind a screen than then getting stampeded in a store. Cyber Monday was a huge success, following a lackluster Black Friday—perhaps further solidifying the power of the online shopper. But still, shopping offline is a part of Millennials' holiday behavior—and they still plan to get out there with their shopping bags in hand. When we asked 14-29-year-olds where they planned to do the majority of their holiday shopping, 59% told us they would be shopping mostly in-store. As a generation that truly lives with one foot in the digital world and one foot out, it’s not too surprising that they plan to buy gifts that way as well, despite cries by some that they are spending all their time clicking on shopping carts instead of pushing them. Perhaps to match up with Millennials' online/offline mentalities, several online-only stores are bridging the gap into the offline shopper’s world, and bringing their wares to city sidewalks (busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style) for the season. Here are a handful of the usually online-only brands that are (somewhat surprisingly) setting up temporary shop IRL (in real life):  

1. Amazon Sells Kindles in SF

Though Amazon is a major player in the online shopping world during the holidays—a full 91% of 14-29-year-old Millennials who planned to shop online said they would be buying gifts on Amazon— it seems dominating the shopping lists on the internet wasn’t enough this year. The massive e-tailer set up a series of pop-up shops in malls throughout San Francisco to sell their Kindle…

 
 

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“As a graphic designer, without the arts being available to me in school I would have been lost as a child and where to take my career path. The fact that schools are cutting art programs is heartbreaking.”—Female, 24, NJ

Applebee’s is putting down the sriracha and giving up on trying to appeal to Millennials. The brand has decided their newer menu items—like a “triple pork bonanza” sandwich—and attempt at a “modern bar and grill” reinvention has “alienate[d]” Boomers and Gen Xers. They’re shutting down more than 130 restaurants and bringing back initiatives from before their attempted “pendulum swing towards millennials,” all-you-can-eat specials and 2-for-$20 deals. Other brands are creating new spin off chains to appeal to fast-casual lovingMillennials, that “[lack] the associated baggage of the old.” (Inc, NPR)

Adults-only ball pits, bouncy houses, and giant slides are sweeping the U.K. Millennials seeking a break from adulthood are flocking to places like Wacky World’s “massive bouncy-castle obstacle course,” which started out as a children’s event. The founder received so many requests that now every event has an 18-and-over slot, and has expanded to 19 cities. This “trend for arrested development activities” is caused by nostalgia, but the influx of marketing and branding leveraging the emotion could be popularizing these playgrounds for adults. (The Guardian)

Facebook is responding to the trend of asking for birthday charitable donations by integrating it right into the platform. Users in the U.S. can now trade in all the “HBD”s they get on Facebook for donations to the cause of their choice: well-wishers will be notified of the birthday along with the selected non-profit, and get the chance to donate. Facebook will ask users which charity they wish to dedicate their day to two weeks in advance, allowing them to choose from 750,000 organizations. (TNW)

Appear Here is the Airbnb of pop-up shops, giving brands their perfect temporary store for the new era of retail. The company finds short term retail space, and has worked with big-name brands like Nike and Net-a-Porter to open “experimental activations” or “test new products.” As brick-and-mortar continues to suffer and long-term stores close, Appear Here says physical retail is still needed, but to “tell a story.” The pop-up industry was valued at $50 billion in 2015, and provides a more low-risk, flexible option to avoid the retail wasteland. (Glossy)

Millennials & Gen Z are turning a profit online and on mobile by re-selling their retail. Thredup, Poshmark, and Depop are just a few of the most popular brands cashing in on the resale economy’s $18 billion market, and some shoppers say they are making $300 a week on the platforms. Some are also using social to sell, often in conjunction with apps or sites, including Snapchat, Facebook Groups, and Instagram. College students on a budget are reportedly especially drawn to resale, thanks to convenience, value, and access to luxury at a lower price. (FN)

“Adult means being entirely independent. I pay my own bills, make all decisions in my life, and feel very in control.”—Male, 20, NY

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