As this is being written for Springboard Futures, it would seem a good thing to write about the future, recalling A Christmas Carol, the old Dickens’s tale and the Spirit of Christmas Future character.
Particularly this Christmas because here’s the thing: it’s about to start any day now and if you’re a business that depends on the holiday season for your yearly success you better be prepared right this minute.
Way back when, we used to say Thanksgiving was the kickoff to the holiday shopping season but gradually that starting date got bumped up progressively, first into earlier November and then sometime in October, depending on Halloween and the changing leaves.
This year, however, the holiday season is going to begin even earlier, as soon as this week. Here’s why:
- First and foremost, everyone is spooked and worried about crowded stores and social contact. For those who are going to do their shopping inside physical retail locations, it’s going to be the sooner the better.
- Retailers, smelling the business out there, are going to be promoting earlier than ever. Don’t be surprised to see pre-Christmas sales and events later this month.
- The big driver is going to be Amazon Prime Day, now expected sometime in the first week or two of October. Pushed back from Covid-infected July, this is going to be a huge driver of holiday shopping sucking a lot of disposable dollars out of the economy. Watch for other retailers — particularly Walmart, Macy’s and, in home, Wayfair, to counter-program their promotional calendars.
- With the diminishing impact of Black Friday weekend, many stores will be closed on Thanksgiving Day and consumers in general will be in no mood for the door-busting, virus-inflicting behavior usually associated with this weekend.
- Consumers are also going to be worried about getting online orders fulfilled and delivered given the frantic headlines about the shipping companies not having the capacity to handle all the increased e-commerce sales. Whether it’s true or not, it will cause shoppers to hit their buy buttons earlier and earlier.
- Finally there’s the feel-good/feel-bad equation. All of us are suffering from Covid fatigue and we feel rotten. What we need is to feel better and that means buying stuff for others…but even more importantly for ourselves. The presidential election is going to contribute to all of this and there could be groundswell of relief for 52% of the population come Nov. 3 that has the potential to open up the shopping floodgates.
It’s a perfect storm and if you’re a retailer in the gift giving sector or a supplier still able to ship quickly either to your retail accounts or direct to the consumer, you better be ready. And you better be ready now. There’s no waiting for calendar pages to flip or the tunes to change on SiriusXM. The Charlie Brown Christmas special may be aired next Tuesday for all we know.
Christmas is going to be a little early this year. In fact Christmas is going to be a lot earlier this year. The future is about to start any day now.
Springboard Spotlight: Warren Shoulberg
Tom Mirabile asked Warren Shoulberg to pick his brain some more on the topic of the Holiday Season coming early, what it means for retail and how to survive it this year. Enjoy!
Award-winning Journalist & Consultant for the retailing and home furnishings industries with extensive business media experience in both fields.