Will six fewer holiday shopping days matter to retail performance?
The holiday selling season is six days shorter and will include one less weekend this year. With only 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, compared to 32 days in 2018, some retailers are making adjustments.
Target, for one, expects to spend $50 million more on payroll during the fourth quarter compared to a year ago because it expects less of a lull that typically occurs between the rushes of Black Friday weekend and the final weekend before Christmas. The retailer will have double the number of employees on hand to fulfill online orders in Target’s stores and will provide more help for peak weekend hours.
“I think we’re going to see a very consistent rhythm and drumbeat in December,” said Brian Cornell, Target’s CEO, said at a media event last Wednesday in Manhattan.
Walmart’s primary response to the shortened holiday season is rolling out its Early Deals Drop promotion on Walmart.com on Oct 25 — “earlier than ever.” Both Walmart and Target are also emphasizing their ease of shopping, including numerous omnichannel options.
RetailMeNot’s Holiday Insights Hub 2019 report found 54 percent of retailers planned to offer deeper discounts than they usually do due to the shortened holiday time frame, 54 percent would begin running deals earlier this year and 44 percent planned to call out the shortened time frame in advertising to shoppers.
Among consumers surveyed, 14 percent say they are stressed about completing shopping on time due to the shortened time frame, 28 percent will make their first holiday purchase sooner and 34 percent will start deal-seeking earlier in the season. Only one in three Americans in RetailMeNot’s July survey, however, were currently aware of the shortened selling season.
With promotions arriving earlier and earlier, some believe the traditional holiday selling period is significantly less relevant.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, believes some retailers are using the compressed holiday selling period “as an excuse” and said the holiday shopping season statistically is November and December. He said, “The internet and 24/7 shopping has made those old formulas obsolete.”
- Shorter Holiday Season Means An Earlier Start For Retail Marketers – Advertising Age
- Target and Walmart Are Focusing on In-Store Ease for the Shorter Holiday Season – Adweek
- Survey: Holiday Shopping Started As Early As This Summer – RetailMeNot
- The RetailMeNot Holiday Insights Hub 2019 – RetailMeNot
- How Walmart & Target Are Upping Their Game Amid a Shortened Holiday Season – Footwear News
- Retailers fret about this year’s shorter holiday shopping window. – Bloomberg
- Target to invest in extra payroll hours during the shortened holiday season – Minneapolis Star Tribune
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What sort of adjustments (if any) should retailers make this year for the shorter traditional holiday season? Do you largely agree that earlier promotions and online selling nullify the impact of the six fewer days?