The big retailers are realizing that online holiday shopping is holiday shopping, but the little guys led them two that conclusion.
As holiday shopping shifts online, even small businesses are getting a big piece of shoppers' budgets.
Market research firm ComScore notes that the amount spent online during the 2015 holiday season grew 13% from 2014 to $69.1 billion. That includes a 6% gain for desktop and laptop shopping and a whopping 59% jump for mobile shopping, which now accounts for 18% of all online shopping.
Even after a whole lot of early holiday shopping, online spending from Black Friday through Cyber Monday eclipsed $7.2 billion last year. That's up 10% from the previous year and was helped a great deal by shoppers who increased their online Thanksgiving spending from $766 million to nearly $1.1 billion since 2011. Black Friday shopping, meanwhile, boosted online spending 10% from $1.5 billion in 2014 to $1.66 billion in 2015.
However, even those two holidays combined paled in comparison to Cyber Monday. ComScore notes that spending on that day sales jumped 12%, to $2.28 billion. Throw mobile shopping into the mix and that spending number jumps to above $3 billion. Though Green Monday on December 14 managed a $1.4 billion online total that was larger than that produced by either Thanksgiving or Free Shipping Day (December 18), even the day after Cyber Monday ($1.9 billion) and the Friday two weeks before Christmas (December 11, $1.48 billion) put up huge holiday numbers.
That's no small matter when you consider that the percentage of online shoppers is growing. According to the National Retail Federation's holiday consumer survey, 56.5% of shoppers plan to do at least some of their holiday shopping online. While that still trails the percentages that will shop in department stores such as Macy's or Nordstrom (56.6%), it's now ahead of the percentage of folks who'll shop at discount stores including Wal-Mart and Target (55.7%), but the demographics aren't working the discounters' favor. That's a drastic change from when the NRF first started surveying consumers about their online shopping ten years ago. At that time, roughly two-thirds said they planned to do between1% and 25% of their shopping online, with the largest percentage (23.5%) saying they planned to skip online shopping altogether. Just last year, 25% of shoppers planned to do 26% to half of their shopping online, while 20% planned to do half to three-quarters of their shopping from their PC or mobile device. Just 11% planned to do no online shopping at all.
That puts a whole lot of holiday shopping money on the table, and we know a whole lot of tiny businesses looking for a piece of it. We've looked at small, unique, obscure, far-flung sites around the holidays for several years now, but the following ten online shops are some great additions to those ranks:
Nielsen Soundscan still can't quite figure out how to equate streaming to sales, but just about everyone can agree that the album is just about dead. During the first half of 2016, total album sales including what Nielsen calls "streaming equivalent" is up 8.9%. However, take streaming out of the mix and album sales are actually down 13.6%. Digital downloads are down 18.4% and are now falling faster than CDs, whose sales still fell 11.6% during the first half of the year. In fact, the music industry managed to sell 50 million CDs compared to just 43.8 million downloaded albums. Digital track sales, meanwhile, have dropped nearly 24% -- or by more than 100 million songs. The only upside for the industry beyond streaming is vinyl, which saw sales jump 11.4% to 6.2 million
That isn't a whole lot of albums (CDs lost 6.6 million sales during the same span, but still sold 50 million albums), but it's the only form of album that people increasingly own. That said, it can get costly if you don't know where you're looking. Oldies.com isn't above selling $30 2Pac and Bon Jovi reissues to graying Gen X-ers, but it'll let stocking stuffers like 45s of Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song" and The Ronettes' "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" go for $5 to $6. Sure, they sell CDs, DVDs and other gifts as well, but trolling the racks for rare finds and cheap pickups is the best reason to stumble around this site and subject yourself to the indignity of your music being filed under "oldies."
There isn't a whole lot going on in Pendleton, Ore. The Pendleton Roundup packs them in for roping and riding during the summer, but clears out just as quickly as it came. The tour of the city's underground passages and former bordellos serves as a reminder of just how far removed this town is from its time as a bustling rail town. Even the town's one brewpub and strip of steakhouses can seem pretty sleepy once the summer ends.
However, Pendleton Woolen Mills has produced high-quality blankets, towels, sweaters and other products here since 1909. Sure, they have a licensing deal with Disney for Captain America and Star Wars blankets. Yes, they have an entire line tied into the National Parks centennial.
Yet one of Pendleton's greatest claims to fame came from a bit of cross-promotion it didn't encourage: its Westerley sweater serving as The Dude's wrap of choice in The Big Lebowski. Nearly $250 may seem like a steep price to pay to sip Caucasians in a piece of Jeff Bridges's wardrobe, but that's just, like, your opinion, man.
John Willis Hulme started his baggage company in St. Paul, Minn., back in 1905, but the leather bags his company produced have proven timeless.
His reinforced duffel bags were designed for early 20th Century hunters and fishermen. His Legacy Collection handbags were built to be just as durable as those sportsmen's bags of choice. His signature leather has been adapted to fit smartphones and tablets just as well as bottles or shotguns.
Not only is every product guaranteed for life, but any leather product you buy -- even the stocking stuffers -- are eligible for free monogramming.
How many phones have you owned in the last five or ten years? How many photos were either left on them, transferred to another device or left in cloud purgatory? How many photos do you have socked away on social networks?
This site is guessing "a lot," which is why Artifact Uprising's sole purpose is to allow you to make albums, wall art, calendars and other items out of your digital collection. By plucking images right off your Instagram feed or elsewhere, Artifact Uprising is trying to save some of your best shots without gouging you for the experience. The Instagram books, for example, start at just $18 and don't require you to upload anything to a site. When we have room for every picture we could ever want to take, but limited access to any of them, bringing a few into the meatspace every so often isn't such a bad idea.
We don't like doing repeat entries, but Goldbely was worth repeating fro last year. There are a lot of folks who can't be home for the holidays, but it helps to bring the holidays home to them.
If you know a Cubs fan from the Chicagoland area who couldn't get home for the World Series parade, ome Lou Malnati's pizza or Vienna Beef hot dogs (and a Chicago-style hot dog kit with pickle spears, tomatoes, onions and celery salt) may be in order.
Folks from Pittsburgh can get a french-fry stuffed Primanti Brothers sandwich. Tourists who miss New Orleans can get Cafe du Monde beignets. For L.A. residents on the wrong coast this holiday season, a Langer's pastrami sandwichcan make the trip with you.
With selections from across the U.S. -- many with free shipping -- Goldbely attempts to remove the barriers to regional cuisine and make them available anywhere. Unfortunately, that typically means you have to prepare New York offerings including sandwiches from Katz's Deli, steaks from Peter Luger's, slices from Joe's Pizza, hot dogs from Papaya King, bagels and lox from Zabar's and cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery with kits. However, if you're from Jersey and know nobody will understand what you're talking about if you order an Italian hot dog at your new home in Oregon, this is the best you're going to get.
Mark Bitterman opened The Meadow on North Mississippi Avenue in Portland in 2006 and really began taking his surname to heart.
After spending a few decades traveling Europe, Bitterman decided to focus on on some of the elements of the continent's food and drink that appealed to him: Salts, cocktail bitters and chocolate. He's since developed his own line of Bitterman's salts and expanded to another location in Portland and a third in New York's West Village. While it can take a while to absorb the depth of salt, chocolate and bitters knowledge Bitterman's throwing at you, he makes it easy for novices to become s obsessed as he is. His Field Guide to Bitters and Amari joins a box of bitters in a $50 gift set. His Salt Block Cooking recipe book is bundled with a Himalayan salt block for $58. A starter salt set (one of many) is packaged with Bitterman's James Beard Award-winning book, Salted: A Manifesto for $56.
If all of that education seems a bit overwhelming, don't worry: You can always just put together an assortment of chocolate and point your friend or loved one to Bitterman's well-formed, but online, thoughts on eating a chocolate bar.
We've really gotten away from durability. An entire fast-fashion industry is built on disposable clothing. Urban dwellers have been conned into believing that well-designed particle board furniture is anything but particle-board furniture. Even tools have become an every-Black Friday investment.
Was there any reason to do this? Buy Me Once reminds us that there are still products out there that are not only built to last, but are guaranteed by their manufacturers if they don't. Buy Me Once does you the favor of putting a whole lot of them in the same place. From Le Creuset cast iron pots built to hang around forever (from $130 to $300, they should), to Darn Tough Socks that come with a lifetime guarantee (starting at $10.50 a pair), this site is loaded with items for consumers who still value something that's made to stand the test of time. If you don't see these items on a Christmas list again, you've done your job well.
We will continue to advocate for pets around the holiday for as long as they have to put up with stray wrapping paper, tree stands they aren't supposed to drink from and trees they aren't allowed to relieve themselves on.
Named after the founders' wire-hair fox terrier whose image graces the site's front page, George is pet wonderland. It's home to freshly-made cat treats and dog treats, house-made cat and dog beds and organic chew toys and leashes. Cats even get their own holiday decorated catnip stocking stuffers, but dogs and cats alike get something to look forward to this holiday season other than table scraps.
We try to get a design-oriented shop onto this list as often as possible, mostly because it's fun.
While the Museum of Modern Art's online shop is an amazing go-to, we feel that there are other retailers out there worthy of similar praise. Whether it's the practicality of stacked mixing bowls with pour spouts or the frivolity of Johnathan Adler's whale pitcher, Click's focus on art and design fills its site with some unquestionably unique offerings. As someone who has one of Rachel Austin's mixed-media pieces hanging in his home, there's something to be said for pleasant aesthetics created by familiar forms. As someone who longs for this Alberta table lamp, it's sometimes just nice to keep some aesthetically pleasant versions of everyday items around.
There are no shortage of gift and junk shops online, so why be bothered with one that's an entire ocean away?
Because few other such shops take similarly great pains to curate their collections and design logos and pages specifically for each item. SUCK UK may not be the only site to carry a Barbecue Toolbox ($120), but it's doing a fine job of selling it. Meanwhile, if you're looking for a light that turns bottles into lamps ($15), a globe made of cork ($80 to $200) for marking your travels or a laundry bag shaped like a punching bag, the Brits have you covered.