Tis the season to be shopping. The holidays are here with industry changes and some surprising shifts in how consumers are gifting. Hint: these changes show how customers engage differently in a unified commerce environment over the season of giving. The stats also tell a story about how retailers across the industry are evolving to respond sooner to industry changes and customer demand.

And there are 60 billion reasons to track this year’s trends according to Customer Growth Partners who published the sales revenue number for this year’s four-day Black Friday holiday weekend alone, a 5.1% jump from 2017.

The season is starting to look different for Retail.

Here are five trends we’re seeing from retailers and consumers this year and what they mean for the industry:

  1. What toy gap?

Since Toys R Us closed its doors earlier this year, retailers across the industry are making toys a major play and two retail giants have been creating hype in the media about becoming the next toy leader. Who? You guessed it, Target and Walmart.

Both retail chains expanded their toy product assortments and inventory to capitalize on the iconic toy retailer’s exit. Signs reading America’s Best Toy Shop span Walmart’s toy aisles, greeting shoppers.

FAO Schwartz made its big return this holiday season in New York, and their focus is on the next trend, in-store experience. Shoppers getting into the holiday spirit are going to the store to shop and engage with customers dancing on the famous piano floor from Big.

  1. There’s a lot of magic in store.

We talk a lot about the importance of having a presence across every channel in our unified commerce environment, and for good reason. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), multichannel shopping is up almost 40% since last year. Retailers investing in online channels and the in-store shopping experience are making waves this season.

With more shopping days before Christmas this year, consumers have more time and ways to tackle their shopping lists. More retailers are offering buy online, pick up in-store options and events or entertainment onsite. There’s a buzz that consumers get when they’re shopping for others. More retailers have been finding ways—from live music to hot cocoa and cookies—to tap into that joy and help shoppers get in the spirit.

Sur La Table is the perfect example. The luxury cookware retailer is luring shoppers in over the weekends with hot chocolate and confections tastings and sales. They’re even demoing a blender to share the “smoothest, richest” cocoa with shoppers, made with French chocolate.

Retailers across the industry are finding the secret ingredients to getting customers into that holiday spirit.

Omni-channel is still changing everything

  1. There’s more shopping on social.

These unified commerce trends bring up some consumer stats on social. The latest stats show that social media is guiding more shoppers to click to their next holiday purchase than ever before. Instagram saw the greatest boost.

The photo and video sharing medium that has helped retailers and manufacturers advertising direct-to-consumer had a 73% jump in the number of consumers using the platform to track holiday specials right from their feeds.

According to a new eMarketer report, almost 70% of retailers are using Instagram for marketing this year and more than 28% are using Snapchat.

Ready for a more surprising stat? More men used Pinterest to look for product and sales information than women. What isn’t a shocker? Younger shoppers spent more time on social media – usage even doubled for some age groups over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Customer experience at Black Friday was everything

  1. Customers expect savings until the holidays.

With Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, Green Monday and other shopping holidays, consumers aren’t trying to attack all their bargain hunting on Black Friday anymore. In fact, 90% of consumers said they expect sales as good or better after the Thanksgiving weekend.

Those numbers fall in line with the trends we’re seeing with shoppers this year. Post-Black Friday, more than half of consumers still had shopping left to do. According to NRF’s survey, men are the most likely to make more last-minute purchases with many going into shopping (or panic) mode on Super Saturday (the final Saturday before Christmas).

With sales up and more shopping days and sales moving into the holidays, retailers have been working hard to prepare.

Price optimization retail

  1. Fewer out-of-stocks…

It’s official, running low on inventory is history. According to NRF, retailers were laser-focused on customer demand via inventory management this year. The result? Retailers enjoyed fewer out-of-stocks and higher profits than previous years.

Ready to up your inventory game?

Still looking to build customer loyalty and reduce out-of-stocks? Learn how JDA’s Luminate Personalized Assortment solution uses AI and machine learning (ML) for end-to-end insights on localized assortments so you can meet customer demand, increase shopper satisfaction and protect margins.