By Teresa Welsh |
Consumers, not retailers, determine when the holiday shopping season begins. Sure, retailers might reference the holiday season in promotions before Thanksgiving, play Christmas music in stores in early November, and open early on Black Friday, but these are simply the visible signs of a retailer adapting to the evolving habits and demands of their customers. If a retailer launched holiday promotions in mid-November and sales suffered, the lesson learned would be obvious. If a retailer opened for business on Thanksgiving Day and nobody showed up, the strategy would be abandoned. But that is not what has happened. Instead, promotions are well-received and retailers that open early, be it before dawn on Friday or in the evening on Thanksgiving Day, are rewarded with long lines and eager shoppers.
Retailers succeed if they understand the needs and wishes of their customers and apply that knowledge to product assortments, pricing, and promotions. Consequently, retailers approach the holiday shopping season with a keen eye towards the expectations of their customers. For some that means holding off holiday promotions until after Thanksgiving. For others it means getting an earlier start to tap into consumer demand.
Quite simply, in a world where consumers remain budget conscious, there are a finite number of sales to be won. If the promotions of a retailer better match the demands of customers, both win. That formula has been at the core of the retailer-customer relationship for centuries and it is unlikely to ever change.
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