Should the holiday selling season be retired?
While the relevancy of Black Friday has been widely questioned in recent years, Denise Lee Yohn, brand expert and author, believes it’s time for retailers to downplay the holiday selling season overall and better balance sales opportunities throughout the year.
In a column for Harvard Business Review, she argues that the “frustration and costs” around staffing, inventory and the supply chain aren’t worth it for the brief holiday season, especially amid fluctuations due to weather and other retailers’ actions. The holiday season is also not paying off as much as shoppers increasingly head online to avoid the holiday crowds and hold out for post-holiday deals in January.
Finally, shoppers, particularly wealthier ones, are “used to buying the products they want when they want them,” rather than waiting for deals. Part of the reason is that they’re “in shopping mode all the time” due to readily-accessible information and product online.
While holiday season campaigns boost traffic, retailers could drive more consistent traffic throughout the year by planning regular launches of new products and brands, offering exclusive access or services, and making a bigger deal of other holidays.
“The technology and analytics now exist for retailers to better predict what people want and when they want it, so they should use these capabilities to move away from the traditional seasonal approach,” Ms. Lee Yohn wrote. “It’s almost as antiquated as mono-channel retail — and just as limiting.”
Other research arriving this year has shown Black Friday continues to erode in importance.
A survey that came out last week from Market Track found only 30 percent indicating they would shop in-store this Thanksgiving (down from 50 percent last year), and only 40 percent plan to shop in-store on Black Friday. The market data and analysis company likewise cited the “buy now” trend as a contributor to the decline. Their statement read, “Technology has enabled shoppers to exist in a perennial ‘buy’ state, and successful brands and retailers have become experts at seizing the moment of influence, whenever and wherever that may be.”
- Why Retailers Should Retire Holiday Shopping Season – Harvard Business Review
- Have retailers killed off Black Friday? – RetailWire
- Market Track Study: “Give Thanks” for Online Retailers! Shoppers Expected to Forego 2017 Black Friday Lines – Market Track
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Should retailers de-emphasize the holiday season? To what degree is a “buy now” mentality reducing the holiday opportunity versus deal fatigue, online’s appeal and other factors? Do you see a path for retailers in better distributing sales throughout the year?