The previous posts in this series about 2012 Holiday Retail Shopping discussed consumer thought-processes and what consumers might buy; how important retailer attitude and confidence will be without capitulating to any media hints of doom and gloom; and to start the season with value, not discounts. I stressed the importance of price tracking and monitoring for retailers so you know what your competitors are doing, how does their assortment compare, and can keep yourself on the path to the right prices and profit. Today, let's look at some of the factors that will play important roles in the upcoming holiday shopping season:
Why Is This Holiday Shopping Season Different From Any Other Season?
1. There's an extra holiday shopping weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. Retailers should take utmost advantage of this extra weekend to increase sales and profits.
2. There's a presidential election in the U.S. this holiday season. If the results create a positive atmosphere of hope, consumers will be in a good mood to loosen their purse-strings and shop. When people feel good and expect good things to happen, they'll feel like spending. On another subject, advertising buys will be more expensive and harder to get until the presidential contest is over. After the election, advertising will be available at more favorable rates.
3. Holiday hiring has increased. Retailers upped holiday hiring by 6% to about 700,000 people for October through December. Hiring also equates to putting more dollars back into the economy pool, for shopping.
4. Retailers have more channels of communication than ever. Unprecedented growth in channels and choices makes it more necessary to provide a seamless experience across multiple devices.
5. There is more data available and better ways to predict consumer behavior and needs, and merchandising than ever. See our numerous blog posts at Upstream Commerce dealing with how much retailers know about you and your buying habits, and how they get you to spend.
6. Nearly one-third of consumers have already turned to online resources since September, to start shopping and browsing for deals, bargains and hard-to-find gifts.
7. The majority of holiday shoppers will keep their wallets open after Christmas, for the post-holiday sales.
8. Retailers aren't going to cave-in to any media doom & gloom this year, and start an unnecessary rush to sell off their assets before their time -- and leave profits on the table. Right?
Some Retailers Have Already Begun To Offer Holiday Enticements:
-- Kmart (Sears), Toys R Us, and Walmart Stores already announced they're either lowering or waiving their service fees for their interest-free-pay-over-time program. Toys R Us said it would offer price matching at its own and Babies R Us stores.
-- Dollar General, one of the largest franchise dollar stores in the country, announced its plans to offer discounts of 10% when $75 or more in toys are purchased from one of their locations. This announcement was made on September 29, and they have expressed plans to continue this discount through Christmas Eve.
-- Target Corp will let customers match prices from online retailers including Amazon.com, Walmart.com, BestBuy.com, ToysRUs.com and BabiesRUs.com between November 1 and December 16; and will offer an additional week, through December 24, on its matching price policy for any lower prices found on its own Target.com site, which sometimes differs from the prices in its stores, and in the print advertisements of other retailers. Target will also give its REDcard credit and debit card holders an extra 30 days to return nearly all purchases made with the cards.
-- Venerable woman's clothing store, Talbots, known for infrequent sales, started with sales in the fall, with more planned during the holiday season.
-- Nordstrom offers every day Free Shipping. Free Returns. All the Time.
Retailers should be mindful of the advantages and opportunities offered by this year's holiday- and presidential-election-seasons. Retailers can create an early and consistent presence in the digital marketplace and deliver personalized, targeted holiday messages to consumers during vital times throughout the holiday season. Retailers should look upon the multichannels and the ability to track customer purchases and behavior as opportunities to acquire, not only data, but new customers. Some retailers have already begun offering holiday enticements to get a jump on the competition and lure holiday shoppers. Have they pulled the trigger too early, in the event that optimism grows and consumers are ready to accept more terms and spend more than expected?
And don't forget the price tracking. Competitive price tracking gives you the foundation you need, from which to make the best possible decisions for your pricing and assortment strategy -- and your ultimate pricing and profits.