Retailers Try to Push Up Holiday Sales

Nov 10, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Christmas displays have been up in some stores since Labor Day. Every year, retailers begin merchandising for the holiday season earlier than before and, every year, more and more shoppers seem to wait until the very last moment to do their holiday shopping.

This year will not be any different, USA Today reports, even though the shopping season is two days longer than last year because of Christmas falling on a Saturday.

George Whalin, president of Retail Management Consultants, said, “The last 10 days will be just gangbusters.”

So, what’s a retailer who doesn’t want to pack most of its sales into the last 10 days before Christmas to do?

Darrell Rigby, head of the global retail practice at consulting firm Bain, said putting out holiday merchandise early is a good start. “Very attractive promotions early on prime the pump so that customers start coming in and spending,” he said.

Janet Hoffman, partner at management consulting firm Accenture, recommends altering product selection as the selling season progresses. “Novelty products are important at the start. Convenience is key at the end, which is when you start to see more pre-wrapped gifts,” she said.

Sherif Mityas, head of A.T. Kearney’s retail practice, believes that merchants can build excitement by introducing hot new products on a staggered basis instead of all at once. “Just by the way they pace it creates an anticipation with the consumer that there will be something new and different. It brings a higher margin and drives more traffic because the consumer comes back.”

Moderator’s Comment: Can retailers really do anything to entice consumers to buy earlier in the holiday season sales
cycle? Instead of focusing their promotions and merchandising on getting consumers to shop earlier, would retailers be better off developing a strategy targeting shoppers over
the two weeks before Christmas?

George Anderson – Moderator

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