Sears and Kmart Get Early Start on Christmas

Discussion
Jul 10, 2009
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Way back when, in the days of our misspent youth, there used
to be a local consumer electronics chain in the New York metro area that
advertised how insane it was to run a Christmas sale during the heat of
summer.

Today, many years later, the question is whether Sears and
Kmart have made a crazy move by launching Christmas Lane boutiques online
and in stores during the month of July.

Like most retailers, Sears and Kmart have typically waited
for the fall to begin emphasizing Christmas holiday themes.

“This is the first year we’ve done the Christmas Lane event,” Natalie
Norris-Howser, a spokesperson for Sears, told the Chicago
Tribune
. “We’re allowing customers to put these
items on layaway and pay over time.”

Both Kmart and Sears see layaway as a means to differentiate
from the competition and drive rings in the process.

“To me, it’s a bit odd to be marketing Christmas products
in the summer,” Morgan Stanley analyst Gregory Melich, told Reuters. “There
may be other ways to tell people you have layaway, but I’m more interested
to find out when they’ll be closing stores that are burning cash.”

Discussion Question: Is it a
smart move by Sears and Kmart to begin promoting for Christmas in July?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

17 Comments on "Sears and Kmart Get Early Start on Christmas"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Charlie Moro
Guest
Charlie Moro
11 years 9 months ago

Interesting, as Christmas purchases have been getting later and later in the season that Sears/Kmart would extend the buying opportunity. I think it’s too early to tell, but if the mindset is that consumers are waiting later and later for the best deal possible it’s a bad idea, but if one of the concerns this year is that consumers are going to wait as late as possible because of financial concerns, this lay-away process of spreading the spending pain over a longer period where it may be easier for some to manage may be a very good idea.

Max Goldberg
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

I dislike seeing Christmas in the stores until after Halloween, but for Sears and Kmart the idea of Christmas in July to promote their layaway option, may just work. It certainly differentiates them from their competitors, and if they offer consumers low prices on items that are typically purchased for the holidays, they could hear registers and sleigh bells ringing.

Dick Seesel
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

Layaway is turning out to be an effective tactic for Sears Holdings, judging from the expansion of the program from Kmart to Sears stores and into new product categories. But this one is a head-scratcher: Most customers finding Christmas-themed merchandise before the stores have fully converted for BTS are likely to respond, “What were they thinking?”

There needs to be some relevance between the stores’ layaway program and appropriately-timed merchandise content. Consumers have increasingly turned away from retailers who “transition” too early, whether in apparel or in holiday-themed goods. Maybe the results will prove me wrong, but this feels like the merchants at Sears continuing to grasp for any sort of answer.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

The differentiating layaway element is the only thing that keeps me from screaming “Noooooo! I would also hope that Sears/Kmart has planned steady newness injections between now and the end of the year. If so, the strategy might pull off a Christmas treasure-hunt vibe that will drive repeat business.

Staleness looms large but layaway justifies the (long) runway!

Joan Treistman
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

The consistent message from the Administration is not to spend what you don’t have. Sears and Kmart are offering the ability to do just that. If they’ve done their homework, the retailers expect consumers to continue their habits of the past. Perhaps.

Given the rising unemployment rate and the uncertainty among those employed, I expect fewer than anticipated to participate in Christmas lane purchasing. The focus among shoppers these days seems to be on necessities and inexpensive indulgences. I don’t think “Christmas gifts” that require layaway fall into either category.

David Livingston
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

I think this will be another one of those “press release” stories put out by Sears/Kmart that will soon be forgotten about. This layaway things sounds strange to me. If someone doesn’t have the wherewithal to pay for the items now, I wonder if they will even remember to pick them up in December?

Phil Rubin
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

In the words of John McEnroe, “You cannot be serious!”

Is this really the best merchandising and promotion idea that these desperate retailers can come up with? Summers are increasingly short, the economy is uncertain and the holiday shopping has pushed later and later.

If Christmas in July is as relevant as Sears and Kmart can be, it’s a sad day in retailing.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
11 years 9 months ago

‘Twas the summer before Christmas
And all through the summer’s heat
They projected the value of layaway
Sears and Kmart were on a new beat.

Wal-Mart cowered in deadly anticipation.
Holiday questions arose earlier this year.
Was this a rendition in stronger competition?
No, Santa Claus will still visit WM this year.

Marc Gordon
Guest
Marc Gordon
11 years 9 months ago

Did the bar just get raised or lowered?

While this might raise some publicity (and eyebrows), if this becomes regular program, then if will quickly lose its appeal and effectiveness.

What I suggest is that they start putting out stuff in November 2009 for Christmas 2010. That way people can do their Christmas shopping a year early.

Kenneth Allan
Guest
Kenneth Allan
11 years 9 months ago

Considering that there are year-round, stand-alone Christmas Stores, I have never understood why department stores never featured a Christmas Shop, year-round. Further, this move demonstrates that Sears Holdings is actually THINKING for itself, and opposed to just following what other retailers do. Well done. Now how long will it be until Macy’s follows suit?

Lee Peterson
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

One thing’s for sure; Sears/K have a very active P.R. department. This will move no needle, but is accomplishing what they set out to do: get some good pub. Look for something new/weird/wrong to pop up about them next month as well.

Janet Schmidt
Guest
Janet Schmidt
11 years 9 months ago

As a shopper, I am very turned off by seeing the Christmas stuff already showing up in September, let alone July. My kids are now grown, but I would never have purchased their gifts that early as their tastes and sizes can change in six months.

Plus, I can’t help but think that the negative vibe I feel with this impacts what I do end up spending on that trip to that particular store. To everything there is a season…

David Biernbaum
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

Actually I think the Sears lay-away strategy for Christmas might actually work out but for all the wrong reasons.

Rick Myers
Guest
Rick Myers
11 years 9 months ago

This is not a new idea for Kmart. Back in the early 90s, they used to run a Christmas in July promotion. Associates we were asked to wear Santa hats and had early Christmas specials. I think it was all month.

However, setting Christmas this early is too much. I feel they will get a lot of complaints and not a lot of sales lift. Any time before October 1 is too early, in my opinion. Even with Layaway plans, October gives a customer a couple of months to pay the bill.

Chuck Palmer
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

Confusion. While this is grabbing headlines and Sears Holdings is playing it as a connection to their layaway success, I’m hard pressed to see the consumer benefit here. It seems it would only serve to confuse, mostly because of the high level of constraint put on the “offers.” It is very difficult to sort out the details of the offer on their very confusing Web sites. Once there, one sees that this is not that much of a compelling offer.

Because of past work with SH on store formats, I have a warm spot in my heart for them and want to see them succeed, but this smacks of desperation.

I believe Sears Holdings needs to get to know their segments better–they know who they are–and leverage what relevance and relationships they have to create truly valuable merchandise, purchasing plans and experiences.

William Passodelis
Guest
11 years 9 months ago
We are talking about this, so that alone is a win for a company which is, unfortunately, somewhat hapless. Layaway–with respect to the general economy–is GREAT, and emphasizing the availability of it is great, but stocking possible holiday season gift items and dragging out the decorations and lights are two very different things. If they can afford to potentially waste floor space with merchandise, that may result in little-to-no interest, so it may not be so great. I hope it works for them because I am a fan, personally, of Sears. I do think Layaway will provide a small boost in a portion of the public which will plan and think ahead. If Walmart returns to offering Layaway again, they will likely gain that business as well, away from Kmart. They should concentrate on execution with making certain that they have the potential “gifts” people want in enough numbers and variety. Of course–really HOT items may not even be known until well into the fall, so there is no gain from the trendy items–but does… Read more »
Scott Knaul
Guest
Scott Knaul
11 years 9 months ago

Like most others, I think the “layaway option” will allow SHC to be successful with this strategy. It could also be a tactic to drive visits to the stores by making an announcement about it.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

How much will Christmas Lane help or hurt Kmart’s and Sears’ Christmas-related sales?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...