It is hard to get a crystal-clear view of how the opening days of the holiday shopping season fared at mass-market doors. Some headlines screamed it broke records while others proclaimed it weaker than expected.
Interviews with several executives from the leading drugstores and discount stores reveal it was both. Early efforts to get customers in the doors worked, but sapped traditional Friday sales. All agrees there will be a new complexion of holiday sales in 2013.
“We now have to really figure out what shoppers want,” said Mark Griffin, president and chief executive officer of Lewis Drugs in Sioux Falls, S.D. “They appear to want to shop on Thursday, but we have to review the situation and how to handle this whole new phenomenon for next year. It is like a sporting event.” Lewis added that although there was activity, warmer than usual temperatures in his market didn’t put shoppers into full holiday mode.
Joe Magnacca, president of daily living products and solutions for Walgreens, said the early results were promising, but that as usual, drugstore efforts kick in a little later than discount and department stores. He did single out health and beauty aids as one of the best areas during the opening days of the holiday season. Walgreens waits until December to reposition its holiday fragrance and beauty gift sets on end caps at the front of the beauty department. This year it has a new promotion called the 12 Days of Christmas focused on the final push. Each day there will be a special beauty offer. Walgreens also has its Saturday promotions in beauty called SaturDate, which, Magnacca feels, will have a big impact on beauty volume. He also said the dynamics of Black Friday changed this year and will rewrite holiday shopping rules for the future.
Gift sets — fragrance, cosmetics and even toiletries, are getting early approval from shoppers. Many appear to be out of items that had been used up over the last two years and were ready to be replenished. The NPD Group chronicled this trend in prestige and retailers confirm it is occurring in mass, too. “Gift sets have often provided a somewhat stress-free purchase for the shopper to get in and out of the madness that surrounds shopping during the holiday season,” said Karen Grant, vice president and senior global industry analyst, NPD. “And it’s not just fragrance anymore, sets are now among the hottest areas in makeup and skin care, too,” added Grant.
On the East Coast, strong Black Friday sales didn’t offset the bite Hurricane Sandy took out of volume in the beginning of the month. MasterCard Advisors’ Spending Pulse estimates Sandy reduced retail sales in the first week of November for the hard-hit mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions, to the tune of $4 billion. Still, a record 247 million shoppers visited stores and Web sites over the four-day weekend that kicked off on Thanksgiving, up 9.2 percent over last year, according to a survey conducted by BIGinsight for The National Retail Federation Group. The number who shopped on Thanksgiving rose 23.1 percent, while tallies on Black Friday increased 3.1 percent.
Mass merchants will be the first to say sales come last-minute to their channel. But in the meantime, they are hauling out all the lures they can from gift sets to buy-one, get-one-free sales.
People, Places and Things
A few words with Joe Magnacca, Walgreens president of daily living products and solutions as he prepares for a celebrity-filled party attended by the likes of Fergie and Mark Wahlberg to celebrate Walgreens 8,000 store. Located in the former famous Schwab’s Pharmacy, the store is the first Walgreens to stock Boots No7. WWDBeautyNews: How many Look Boutiques are open now? Joe Magnacca: We are at just about 40 with two more to open this year. This store is special because it is the first with Boots No7 and we thought it was a good location to show the new fixturing and totally new packaging that has been developed. We will be working in other Boots products next year [the availability follows the strategic partnership between Walgreens and Alliance Boots inked last June].
WWDBeauty News: What’s special about the fixturing and display? J.M.: We have put No7 at our welcome desk, right when you walk into the store. This is the checkout and we’ve trained Beauty Advisors to educate consumers about the brand as they check out. From this, we’ll pause and measure the success and decide where and how we will roll out No7.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty