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Hot for the Holidays

June 18, 2012  By Michelle Brisebois

For those of us who buy décor and accessories for resale, Christmas comes in the spring.

For those of us who buy décor and accessories for resale, Christmas comes in the spring. With lead times stretching for several months for items sourced offshore, getting those orders in early is imperative. It can be difficult to forecast what’s going to sell well and what the trends will be for the holiday season, but if we look at lifestyle and fashion indicators, figuring out what will sell come November can be a much more targeted and successful experience.

Copper coloured ornaments and ribbons bring the trendiness of orange into holiday celebrations.



Consumers want products that save them time. A 2008 Yankelovich study reported that 70 per cent of Americans aged 16 years or older are concerned that they do not have the time to do all the things they need to do. Many of us are willing to buy ourselves more time. In fact, a 2009 Datamonitor survey found that 50 per cent of Americans believed lack of time was a bigger problem than lack of money. The popularity of pre-lit Christmas trees plays directly into the desire for easy decorating solutions and the ascent in sales of artificial trees provides evidence of this trend. In 1990, 35.4 million households in the U.S. chose real trees for display, while 36.3 million displayed artificial trees, according to the National Christmas Tree Association. By the year 2000, the split had widened in favour of artificial, with 32 million households choosing live trees and 50.6 million going the artificial route. The old toilet bowl brush tree had morphed into a beautiful, realistic, permanent botanical that came pre-lit and turnkey to assemble.

Having pre-lit artificial trees in your portfolio will allow you to capitalize on this trend but don’t rule out a great opportunity with freshly cut trees either. Since they are a yearly purchase, they still outpace artificial trees in total sales by three to one. For those choosing a real tree in 2010, the National Christmas Tree Association found that 76 per cent wanted a precut one. The association also found that nurseries and garden centres were growing faster as the preferred source for buying a tree than “choose your own” farms, chain stores or pop-up retail lots on the corner. Tabletop trees – both artificial and real trees sold in pots – are the perfect fit for condo dwellers and empty nesters who are space challenged.

Deep blues, stars and sparkle are on trend for Christmas.


Have a meeting in September with your team and assign each of them the task of looking at the decorations already in your program. Have your team create a themed tree design. In retailing, this is referred to as the “Ikea solution.” In other words, the fastest way to get consumers to fall in love with your product is to help them to envision it in their own home. If they love the tree exactly as it’s decorated, offer a service to erect and decorate the tree for them. It may be a challenge to execute if you’re short staffed but it’s worth trying to incorporate if you can make it work.

The holidays provide people with a chance to try on new trends for a short period of time, so understanding the forecasts in fashion, texture and colour for fall 2012 is important.

A few years ago, I saw a Christmas tree on display done totally in a Sex and the City theme. The TV show was all the rage but replicating the entire look for my tree at home would have been cost prohibitive and resulted in a revolt by my husband and two sons. However, I will admit that I bought one martini glass ornament to hang as my personal nod to the trend (and an injection of a bit of girl power). Without the “wow” impact of that themed tree, I wouldn’t have pictured the ornament on mine. Each of these following trends has its roots in pop culture, politics and consumer sentiment. Think about how your team might create a variety of displays to really feature each trend in all its glory.

My stars

The trend forecasters refer to this as “galaxy.” Maybe The Big Bang Theory has made astrophysics sexy and Trekkies are suddenly cool? This trend shows as deep indigo blue, stars as motifs, and sparkle. Since stars are a traditional choice for topping the tree, you may want to make sure to stock up on options with a touch of glitter.


Velvet plays a bit to the goth vibe that’s still very popular right now. Pop culture’s fascination with vampires hints at the appeal of this trend. For fall 2012, velvets show as crushed, embossed and smooth. They’re all very rich and saturated in colours featuring jewel tones. Velvet bows for the tree will offer customers a way to celebrate the trend. Perhaps a velvet tree skirt would do the trick as well?


Paisley is named after a small Scottish town and has been in and out of vogue in fashion for hundreds of years. With its genesis in ancient Babylonia, it began migrating west with the East India Company, displayed on luxurious shawls. Paisley then became a status symbol for the stylish women of the Napoleonic era. It re-emerged in the ’70s as a manifestation of the quest for Eastern enlightenment. Paisley is hot again for fall 2012, so look for any home décor or holiday pieces that showcase this design.

Emeralds, sapphires, rubies

Deep greens, rich blues and bold reds are key colour stories for fall. They look great in velvet and evoke images of crown jewels. Emerald green is particularly hot and perfect as a holiday colour theme. 


Orange is the new neutral for fall, according to the Pantone colour forecast. This colour will also show in a holiday program as copper coloured ornaments and ribbon.

Traditional meets exotic

Those classic holiday images are strong this year, but with a twist. Reindeer aren’t represented as the cheesy cartoon version but as the elegant Nordic version – almost elk-like. Saint Nicolas with his flowing robes is a more exotic nod to tradition than the chubby belted and booted Santa Claus.

Kristen Bradbury, accessory buyer for Andrew Peller Limited, has one final piece of advice for retailers preparing to purchase their holiday program. “It’s always best to start with your existing inventory to see what you had left over from last season,” she says. “See how it can fit with your new program to attempt to move the excess inventory this year.” It’s a great strategy to ensure that your program is seamless, profitable and that the only leftovers you have to contend with are the ones from your holiday dinner.

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