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.
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye