The pandemic is turning this into a holiday shopping season like no other.
Toy companies are targeting stuck-at-home grown-ups with latte-smelling Play-Doh and Legos that turn into Warhols. Those who added a puppy to their family during the pandemic will see tons of gift options for their new furry friend. And with more people shopping online, stores are doing double duty as shipping centers to try to get gifts to doorsteps as fast as possible.
Here’s what to expect:
Toys for adults
Kids aren’t the only ones who need some fun. Toy companies are targeting bored adults stuck at home during the pandemic. Need something to fidget during your next Zoom meeting? Hasbro has new moldable Play-Doh varieties that smell like stuff grown-ups would recognize: lattes, fresh cut grass and smoked meats.
Lego, meanwhile, wants adults to put on their headphones and “forget about the rest of the world” while turning the plastic pieces in their new kits into hangable art, like Andy Warhol’s famous Marilyn Monroe portraits.
Marissa DiBartolo, editor in chief of toy review site The Toy Insider, says she’s seen more coloring books and challenging puzzles being designed with adults in mind.
From YouTube to the toy store
The canines on “Paw Patrol” better watch their tails. YouTube stars with millions of viewers are heading to the toy aisle, a place where TV cartoon characters used to rule.
It’s all because kids are spending so much time watching YouTube instead of cable TV, says DiBartolo. That’s made stars of the video-streaming site just as recognizable as those on Nickelodeon.
Figurines of Blippi, a man who wears orange suspenders and hosts educational kid videos on YouTube, are being sold at Target and Amazon. At Walmart, toys featuring Ryan Kaji, a kid who reviews toys on his Ryan’s World YouTube channel, have been hot sellers. Toy company VTech is playing into the trend in another way, selling a KidiZoom Creator camera that comes with a green screen so kids can add special effects and pretend to be YouTube influencers themselves.
And if you need another sign of just how big YouTube stars have become, a 42-foot-tall balloon based on Kaji from Ryan’s World appeared Thursday in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, floating next to TV icons like SpongeBob and, yes, Chase from “Paw Patrol.”
Stores as shipping hubs
Retailers including Walmart and Best Buy that were already using their locations as hubs to ship e-commerce orders are now coming up with new strategies to get even faster. The moves come as they face a holiday crunch expected to tax shipping networks and likely result in delivery delays.
Walmart this week launched a special program for the holidays. It has some of its online orders being fulfilled directly from stores using delivery services like Postmates and DoorDash instead of carriers like FedEx or UPS. The aim is to ensure customers will be able to get their orders quickly, even on the same day.
Meanwhile, Best Buy says that 340 of