Retail

What’s Under The Millennial Christmas Tree This Year?

All that’s left now, more or less, is the rush of returns that will all but overwhelm some retailers. Christmas Eve is upon us, and the last gifts are making their way from basements, attics and bedroom closets to stockings and trees.

So, what kinds of products will people be getting this year? To get a better sense of what’s coming (and to have some holiday fun), PYMNTS recently caught up with Akash Garg, CTO of Afterpay — a company that offers flexible payment terms, and essentially serves a digital layaway provider.

After its launch in the 1930s, layaway had a long run in the U.S. However, after almost 50 years, it began to fade in the 1980s, disrupted by the emergence of store-branded credit cards. Similar to layaway, they offered customers another option to purchase items without having upfront cash. Yet, instead of offering the option to pay now and buy later, the credit cards reversed the order of operation and allowed customers to buy now and pay later over time. Companies such as Afterpay are hoping to change that — and to appeal to younger consumers worried about taking on too much credit card debt.

As such, the most popular 2019 holiday gift trends — from an Afterpay point of view — involves a particular type of consumer, one perhaps more interested in fashion and beauty products than other consumer segments. Even so, these consumers are moving up the income ladder as they get older, and will play an even more massive role in eCommerce and digital payments in the new decade.

Top Sellers

Top-selling items via Afterpay’s retail partners this holiday season include athletic and leisure wear, sneakers (both high end and streetwear), lip and makeup kits, candles and spa accessories, as well as cold-weather clothing and winter apparel, including warm underwear, Garg told PYMNTS.

“It’s getting cold out there,” he said. “Sneakers, of course, are always popular,” and that popularity looks likely to hold well after the 2019 holiday shopping season — thanks to the preferences of younger shoppers, including millennials and Generation Z. “Sneakers used to be functional, but now, they are part of who you are,” he added.

That’s not all. According to a study cited by Afterpay, most millennial consumers buy fashion and beauty items more frequently than other items, such as books, entertainment or home goods. It’s hard to say, though, what’s not selling well this year during the holiday season, at least so far, but hints have emerged about some changes with products.

As PYMNTS reported, toy discounts have plummeted this holiday season. There were fewer discounts on toys for online shoppers, despite an average of 15 percent to 18 percent price cuts into Cyber Monday. In 2018, toy prices were slashed 31 percent, UBS Analyst Arpine Kocharyan wrote, citing eCommerce trends tracked by Adobe. In 2017, price discounts were about 19 percent.

On another note, the shopping time between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year is six fewer days, the shortest time since 2013. Hanukkah also began 20 days later this year than last year, Bloomberg said.

However, Thanksgiving weekend shoppers showed that toys are still hot, with 33 percent saying that they were buying toys as gifts, compared to 34 percent in 2018, according to National Retail Federation data. Barbie from Mattel is still the most popular holiday toy for girls. For boys, LEGO remains the top seller.

On Cyber Monday, top gifts included Frozen 2 toys and MGA Entertainment’s L.O.L. Surprise! dolls, UBS said. Other winners included O.M.G. dolls — updated, larger versions of L.O.L. Surprise! dolls that first appeared three years ago. Spin Master Entertainment’s Paw Patrol animated series, which launched in 2013, is still a hit as well.

Big Brands

Afterpay’s Garg couldn’t speak to trends for toys, but the Afterpay data at least shows what “toys” adult consumers are interested in for the 2019 holiday shopping season. The data also shows the most popular brands this season with consumers who use Afterpay, including Levi’s, Ray-Ban, PrettyLittleThing and Free People — a mix of old and relatively new.

Furthermore, Afterpay told PYMNTS that the push toward mobile continues to take no prisoners, with some 75 percent of Afterpay shoppers using mobile devices to make purchases on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Here’s hoping that the present you want is under the tree or inside the stocking this year.

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