Retail surveys report that this year’s Holiday shopping is going to be explosive and unpredictable. Perhaps a record-setting year with profits soaring beyond imagination — or perhaps plunging consumer confidence leading to disappointing sales figures. So this year, more than ever, retailers need to track consumer trends and take advantage of them. Here are a few to be aware of:

Shoppers are spending more. This is a proven fact; retail surveys consistently show a ten percent increase in sales across the board. The trick, of course, is to get consumers to spend some of that ten percent extra at your place of business.

Me, myself, and I. That is the motto of the Millennials. They are expected to spend at least five hundred dollars per person on themselves, leaving perhaps a little less for others on their list. Which also makes sense that the highly personal experience of AR and VR in retail is quickly picking up steam for this age group, according to research done by Couponbox.com.

Consumer reviews are taking the place of advertising. Gen Z is following consumer reviews closely this year before they make a purchase. They don’t care about advertising — even if you’re advertising to give the store away. But give them an enthusiastic legitimate review and they’re ready to pay by Google Wallet!

Millennials are shopping earlier. Several consumer surveys this year point to the fact that Millennials are for the most part planning to be through with their Holiday shopping by Thanksgiving. Their philosophy is they want to enjoy the winter holiday season without all the stress of last minute shopping. And they’re doing most of it online.

Everybody wants free shipping for the Holidays. The mindset from Baby Boomers to Gen Z’s is: “I’m spending a ton of money with you people, so give me free shipping!” Retailers who are not sensitive to this perception are going to lose out on ultimate profits.

And everyone wants it today. Instant gratification is the name of the game with today’s consumers. They want their purchases in their hot little hands asap. And they’re willing to pay handsomely for that privilege.

The brand is still important. Consumers look for brand recognition when shopping for others. Even a gift card shows this trend. McDonald’s reports sales of their gift cards are down twenty nine percent from last year — while P.F. Chang’s reports an uptick of gift card sales by sixteen percent from last year. Generics may be okay the rest of the year, but Santa don’t bring no Brand X!

Charity giving is up. Polls show that consumers consider the world we live in today to be darker and more dangerous than ever before. And they are responding by donating an average of two hundred dollars more per year to charities. Retailers can take advantage of this generous impulse by offering to donate to shopper’s favorite charities with each purchase.

Rover gets a gift this year, too. In the United States there are over fifty million pet owners. And this year at least have of them will be considering buying a present for their dog or cat . . . or iguana! It may be something as simple as a box of dried crickets or as elaborate as a cashmere sweater for the dog or an elaborate, carpet-covered, playhouse for the cat. The point is that serious money is going to be spent this year on pets, so if you retail anything pet related make sure you highlight it in your advertising and marketing long before the cranberry sauce is opened up!