A Tough Mudder for Retailers
If you think holiday shoppers are the frantic ones, think again. It’s getting hard core for retailers today and the competition for the ultimate prize of share of wallet has become akin to a Tough Mudder for merchants.
I don’t know about you, but seeing holiday sales and promotions beginning as early as September gives me more anxiety as a consumer than glee. If I don’t buy that great deal now, I immediately begin to experience the dreaded FOMO. Truth be told, part of the spirit and tradition of the holiday season was waiting for the four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas to begin the cheer of shopping and gift-giving (actually embracing the crowds as part of the holiday experience). Now it’s become a protracted barrage of emails, online and social media ads from every retailer you can imagine that has got my head spinning. Is anyone reading the trends? The fact is that procrastination is on the rise, making the early assault on us shoppers potentially counter-productive. A recent Deloitte study confirms that shoppers are waiting longer to do their holiday shopping. Interestingly, Deloitte found that 44% of consumers plan to do the majority of their shopping in December and January, up from 37% in 2013. And the percent of shoppers who planned to get started earlier, in October or early November, declined from 30% to 23%. The rest plan to do their shopping in late November.
All of you merchants out there might be rolling your eyes right now and wondering whether I understand the complex retail spending environment. The answer is, of course I do. Extending the holiday shopping period can actually alleviate some of consumers’ stress over getting their shopping done by making them feel less time strapped. Retailers are also beginning to hedge their bets on whether Black Friday and Cyber Monday are sustainable models by smoothing out the discounted sales curve over a longer period of time. No doubt a smart move and a plus for consumers. In fact, the National Retail Federation predicts that the 2015 holiday shopping season will be 3.7% higher than last year despite consumer’s continued price sensitivity and the slow economic recovery in the U.S.
Is the considerably longer holiday shopping season going to benefit both retailers and consumers in the long run? What will become of Black Friday and Cyber Monday? There are small signs that change may be coming. This year many retailers have bucked the trend despite the risk of lost sales by closing on peak shopping days. This was once an inconceivable thought. A shout out goes to REI and other retailers including Nordstrom, Crate and Barrel, Patagonia, GameStop and Sam’s Club that will not be open on Thanksgiving or Black Friday. It makes us all reflect for a moment about what’s really important during the holiday season. And it’s certainly a reason for all of those retailers’ employees to give thanks and to be with their families.
Allison serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of Beanstalk, a leading global brand licensing agency and part of the Diversified Agency Services division of Omnicom Group. In her role, Allison oversees the strategic direction of the global agency and leads its growth efforts with an eye toward providing the most effective and comprehensive expertise on strategic brand extensions for its clients around the world. She also manages all operations of the agency worldwide.