This Holiday Season Retailers Should Anticipate a Marathon, Not a Sprint


Christmas came early this year.

Amazon’s Prime Early Access sale is currently underway, marking the first time the Seattle-based retail giant is hosting two Prime Day sales events in one year. And Amazon isn’t the only retailer to push its holiday sales early. This week, Target announced that its Black Friday deals would start rolling out three weeks early. Walmart is also currently offering a rollback sale through Thursday, October 13–seemingly as a direct competitor to Amazon’s Prime Early Access sale.

Why are holiday sales starting so early? It’s a chicken-egg situation: Retailers that have accumulated excess inventory due to supply chain shifts and changing consumer demand, while customers have started searching for early deals because of the pressures of inflation. As a result, businesses of all sizes are competing for customers who are likely to rein in their typical holiday spending–and that means that holiday promotions and sales are table stakes for the remainder of the season. 

Adobe’s holiday forecast, released this week, predicts record discounts, especially on items like electronics, toys, and computers. Even with early deals, Adobe predicts that Cyber Monday will still be the biggest shopping day of the year, driving $11.2 billion in sales. 

As customers are closely watching their budgets and searching for deals, businesses will have to find ways to stand out from the competition from now until the end of the holiday season. Beyond discounts, retailers might find success promoting premium goods that make shoppers feel like they’re investing in higher quality products, or offering compelling bundle deals that can help them to simultaneously offload excess inventory and increase sales.

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