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Holiday Shopping Trends Cause Retailers Frenzy

12/16/2011

Nine more shopping days until Christmas.

In these last days of holiday 2011 retailers are like poker players making their final draw. A good decision here can make a company’s year. A bad decision here can put a retailer into heavier than planned markdowns even before Christmas.

Tomorrow is “Super Saturday”, a title usually reserved for the final Saturday before Christmas. As Christmas is on a Sunday and combined with a sharp drop in shopping since Thanksgiving weekend, hand wringing retailers have blinked a week early this year. Retailers are fearful of waiting until the 24th to initiate the tactics usually reserved for the most heavily discounted day of the year.

It may be hard to believe, but according to the America’s Research Group/UBS Christmas Forecast Survey, 40 percent of consumers are completely done with their holiday shopping at this point. That suggests there may not be too much spending left to do. But it also means that nearly half of all shoppers are sitting on their hands waiting for bigger markdowns and better deals.

The fact is not lost on retailers but does not discourage them from various shenanigans to entice more shopping from  financially wearied consumers.

For example, Toys”R”Us Has announced that its stores nationwide will remain open for 112 uninterrupted hours beginning at 6 am on Tuesday, December 20 and continuing through 10 pm on Christmas Eve. Yikes! What says a perfect holiday evening with the family like a trip to TRU after Christmas Eve dinner and before Midnight Mass? I can’t thing of anything more wonderful.

Starting on Wednesday, Macy’s Inc. is planning to keep 14 of its stores open for a straight 83 hours. Kohl’s and Sears are open until midnight every day until December 23rd.

Will the opportunity to shop at all hours help? I doubt it. Consumers are turning to the online channel in particular because of its low pricing and convenience. Free shipping, which more retailers seem to be offering this year, is part of that mix. Another reason consumers are shopping online is that price conscious consumers find it  easier to comparison shop online.

As the final days and hours tick down on the 2011 holiday shopping season we can then go back to enjoying Christmas for what it really is about – family, friends and faith.

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