The World’s Leading Home + Housewares Show

March 2–4, 2025 | McCormick Place | Chicago, IL

The World’s Leading Home + Housewares Show
March 2—4 | McCormick Place | Chicago, IL

After a highly unusual few years, many retailers might have been hoping for a more “typical” holiday shopping season. But there might not be such a thing anymore. As we approach the home stretch in this year’s shopping season, there’s still time and ways for sellers of home and housewares goods to win sales.

Consumers Feeling Stress

Many holiday shopping forecasts have focused on economics, namely the impact of inflation and the importance of discounts and promotions. But a key part of winning sales this shopping season centers on connecting with consumers on their time, energy and emotions.

According to a recent report from CivicScience: “The winter holidays are, in theory, a time for celebration, rest and relaxation before the new year ahead. However, that may be as much a fairy tale as Santa Claus.” The reality is that many consumers, especially parents, experience higher stress levels during the holiday season.

And that certainly can be amplified when money is a concern. This year, 51% of U.S. adult respondents who celebrate the winter holidays said they feel more stressed. Forty percent said they feel about the same level of stress as they usually do; only 9% said it was lower.

Leading Cause of Stress: Gift-Giving

You might think holiday travel, visits from family or all the decorating, cooking and wrapping might be what’s causing the angst. But the CivicScience poll shows that gift-giving is by far the leading cause of holiday-induced anxiety (according to 45% of the general population; cooking/baking and spending time with relatives were next, both at 13%.)

While some of that is financial, the time and energy involved with coming up with gift ideas, identifying products and getting them is significant as well. Any way retailers can help alleviate some of that stress is sure to be appreciated, whether through longer hours, personalized gift-giving ideas or opportunities to see and experience products in action. Some smaller, independent retailers have had success in maintaining informal “wish lists” so that shoppers don’t have to guess what their loved ones would like.

Another way to help shoppers looking for the perfect gift? Gift cards. In fact, CivicScience speculates if this might be “the year of the gift card” with 29% of U.S. adults saying it’s “very likely” they’ll give gift cards this year. (Another 35% say they’re “somewhat likely.”) The leading reason? Convenience, followed by hard-to-please friends and family members.

Still Plenty of Time

So, with all the early holiday shopping this year, will consumers be done earlier? Don’t count on it.

“Some consumers are saying, ‘I will shop earlier, because I think I’ll get things at better prices earlier,’ while others are saying, ‘I will shop later, because I think that’s when the best deals will be,’” says Tamara Charm, a partner in McKinsey and Company’s Boston office. “That is a huge difference this year; the holiday shopping season started early and will end late. It’s going to be a longer season this year.”

In addition, the weeks closest to the holidays typically see an uptick in last-minute gifts, whether for hostess gifts, office Secret Santa exchanges or items to round out a gift-giving budget once big ticket items have been purchased.

It’s a good time to emphasize unique items at a lower price point. In the home and housewares space, that could include items like the Hoptimist, a sweet little conversation piece designed by Danish counterculture icon Gustav Ehrenreich. Or perhaps the Yoyo from Serene House, which is a portable scent diffuser you can carry to an office or hotel room or use in a closet or drawer.

Items made for easy gifting will also be appreciated, like this popcorn-filled ornament from Wabash Valley Farms—no extra wrapping necessary—or this stand-up stocking from The Original Standing Stocking. And of course, you’ll want to make sure to have plenty of universally appealing items for the home this shopping season, like candles and plants.

Get Ready for The Inspired Home Show 2024!

March 17-19, 2024