Amazon Heads Into Holidays Boosting Brick-and-Mortar Presence

Amazon goes into the holiday season with a newly magnified brick-and-mortar presence, giving it more opportunities to sell its Kindle e-readers, Fire tablets and other gadgets.

The online retailer now has more than a dozen Amazon Books stores, which also sell toys, electronics and small gifts. Kohl's has carved out space for Amazon shops in 10 of its department stores. Amazon also has small shops in several malls, and is selling most of its gadgets in 100 Whole Foods stores and opening pop-up shops in five.

But the Seattle-based company's physical stores are a small part of its business, making up just 3 percent of its total revenue between July and September, even though it bought Whole Foods and its 470 stores during that period. And its online sales will still dominate. Bain & Co. analysts expect Amazon.com Inc. to take about half of the total growth in online sales during holiday shopping season.

Still, having a physical presence gives shoppers a chance to see and try out Amazon gadgets, and maybe buy. It also gives shoppers a chance to "interact" with Amazon employees, and learn more about the products, analysts at KeyBanc Capital Markets say.

Here are some other trends this holiday season:

Toys that Surprise

After the wrapping paper is ripped off, some gifts will need to be unwrapped again.

Some of the hottest this year are LOL Surprise and Pikmi Pops. These and similar toys hide small stuffed animals or dolls inside plastic balls that are wrapped in several layers of packaging. Kids peel each layer, revealing tiny bags filled with trinkets, stickers, messages or other doll accessories as they go.

Some record themselves opening the toys to post on YouTube, part of the popular video trend of unboxing.

For the holidays, toy company MGA Entertainment launched the $69.99 LOL Surprise Big Surprise, which it says...

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