Sometimes it really is Christmas in July. Shopping seasons for holidays are shifting, creeping into earlier slots each year. Specialty retailers have to keep up or risk losing business to larger competition.
When I worked at a locally owned children’s toy store, big box retailers often dictated our holiday seasons.
If Michael’s put out Halloween crafts at the end of August, we were pressured to follow suit or lose business. HEB groceries started lining the shelves with Valentine’s offerings almost immediately after Christmas.
It became a running joke to see how quickly other stores would skip to ahead to the next holiday.
One year at the toy store, we actually wrapped Christmas presents as early as July. While it was tempting to make the easy joke, we had a bigger question: is it really time to start ordering for the holidays already?
Smaller businesses, locally owned shops, and specialty stores typically don’t have the same purchasing power as say, Walmart. So if retail tycoons start stocking up on holiday items early in the season, other stores are left with limited inventory to order.
With less product choices, stores that don’t get ahead of the curve fall behind in sales and customer happiness.
Additionally, advertising inventory is limited. Since consumer holiday spending shifted to the six-day retail holiday starting on Thanksgiving, pressure is on marketers to capture customer interest.
Although larger retailers engaging in heavy marketing may lift the market as whole, success is not as equal. Only those who have the inventory to back up interest will see growth.
Online retail holidays account for a significant chunk of e-commerce spending. In 2017, online desktop spending between Thanksgiving and Cyber Tuesday accounted for 17.7 percent of all e-commerce holiday spending according to comScore.
Back in 2016, the same shopping period clocked 16.8 percent of online spending. We’re seeing a steady increase in early spending, but less days to spend.
This year there are 33 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but in 2019 that drops to only 27 days. There’s less time for marketers to capture attention before budgets get blown during Thanksgiving holiday sales.
Online retailers may lose out on sales if they aren’t able to leverage Thanksgiving retail shoppers.
Executing strong marketing strategies early in the season (rather than just joking about what the big boys are doing) is now crucial for brand success, especially smaller storefronts.