Holiday shopping and promos to start earlier than ever this year
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
Retail experts expect the holiday selling season, typically reserved for the period following Thanksgiving through Dec. 25, to begin in October, earlier than ever this year as consumers scramble to avoid crowds and try to get a jumpstart on shopping amid the coronavirus.
Already, holiday-related email promotions from the likes of Anthropologie, Crate & Barrel and West Elm began running in mid-September. L.O.L. Surprise!, the popular toy brand, has begun an influencer-infused holiday campaign to support the launch of its new musically themed Remix product. And Carter’s, the baby brand, is even emailing customers with the subject line, “Last chance to get ready for the holidays.”
It’s hardly the last chance, but retailers are clearly in an “early bird gets the worm” kind of mood in a year unlike any other. Halloween advertising also began on the early side. Today, a new consumer survey from global consulting firm AlixPartners found that 49 percent of consumers plan to begin their holiday shopping before Oct. 31. The firm is now cataloguing the holiday shopping season as beginning in October, rather than November.
“The traditional November-December holiday-season definition is meaningless this year,” said Joel Bines, managing director and global co-leader of AlixPartner’s retail practice, in a statement, noting that the pandemic has accelerated a trend that has been occurring for years as online shopping shifted spending earlier and earlier in the season. Last year, for example, brands were pushing “Black Friday” deals nearly two weeks before the day itself as single-day shopping holidays continued to lose relevance.
This year, AlixPartners expects spending for the three-month period between October and December to increase between 1 percent and 2.6 percent compared to the same period last year, which generated $1.1 trillion in sales.
While the majority of brick-and-mortar locations have reopened since pandemic-related lockdowns, many consumers are continuing to shun stores and do their shopping online. A recent consumer report from investment bank Cowen found that 37 percent of consumers increased e-commerce spending, despite some 85 percent of stores re-opening. Many shoppers are buying online and picking up in-person via curbside services—Cowen found 32 percent of Americans are using such offerings at stores.