By: Dr. Lynn Reaser
The Halloween candy and costumes barely make it to October 31 before the Christmas merchandise arrives. Black Friday is now being replaced by sales taking place earlier in the week and sometimes well before turkeys have even been put in the refrigerator for Thanksgiving.
Do earlier and earlier holiday promotions make any business sense for retailers?
The answer, pragmatically, may be “yes.” To compete with mass merchandisers, such as Wal-Mart, who are deploying early-season promotions, the vast number of retailers must make special offers to maintain their customer bases. Is it a good strategy for the dominant retailers? It may be if consumers without a strict budget end up buying more with additional perceived shopping days before Christmas. It may give retailers more time to manage inventories with price adjustments prior to Christmas, preventing the need for steep post-holiday markdowns. What are the business downsides? Staffing costs will be higher, while earlier and earlier promotions could trigger “holiday fatigue” long before the mistletoe arrives.
Aside from the pros and cons of the business strategy, I personally do not like to think about Christmas before the Thanksgiving turkey has been carved and safely put away. Each holiday has its unique meaning and the two at year-end are especially positive. Thanksgiving is about being grateful and Christmas is about giving, with giving not just material things.