As Holiday shopping seasons go, this has been a strange one.
For starters, Thanksgiving came six days later this year than last. “That’s significant,” says Ann Fairhurst, a retail professor and head of the Department of Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management at the University of Tennessee. “That’s six fewer days that the retailers have to capture those dollars and so they’re really pushing promotions all the way to Christmas.”
The need to maximize the short season began in earnest on Thanksgiving Day, when many retailers decided to open their doors early for Black Friday shoppers. Fairhurst says some of those retailers have already decided they’re not going to do that again next year. “The push-back is from the employees, that their Holiday has now been taken away,” says Fairhurst, “so it’ll be interesting to see what really plays out and see whether or not it was successful.”
The lack of a post-Black Friday lull is more evidence that retailers are scrambling to make up lost time this year. Fairhurst says retailers normally take a short break from big promotions after Black Friday and Cyber Monday and then began to ramp them up as Christmas Day approaches. But that didn’t happen this year. Fairhurst says Cyber Monday turned into Cyber Week and the deals haven’t really stopped. And to top it off, several on-line retailers are still offering free shipping.
That’s good news for consumers who can take advantage of the fierce competition for their money. And it seems to be paying off for retailers too. The National Retail Federation is anticipating a 3.9% increase in sales this year.