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Crystal Ball for the Holidays

Online selling and green products merchandising are among major trends ahead for this holiday season, according to Thomas Blischok, Information Resources Inc.'s president for Global Retail.

"Online retailing will be gangbusters," he said at an educational session. "There will also be a lot of green holiday products."

He said that holiday meals and meal ingredients and components are also expected to be strong.

In the nonfood arena, Blischok expected electronics, including less expensive Blu-ray devices, to be popular, and predicted a lot of "affordable gift giving."

He said that overall spending rates will be about the same as last year, and forecast shoppers will stick to their recession-oriented buying habits -- which he called "economic sobriety" -- in 2010.

He called on retailers to make changes for next year, including simplifying assortments and enhancing loyalty programs.

"2009 has been tough, and next year will be tougher, but there are lots of opportunities," he said.