Christmas in May? It’s never to early for retailers to worry about the holiday season.
This year, there will be six fewer selling days in the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Some retail experts see this as a significant disadvantage, while others point out that last year’s performance, with 32 days in the period versus this year’s 26, wasn’t a stellar performance despite all the shopping opportunities.
“The more selling days you have between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the better off you are,” said Arnold Aronson, managing director of retail strategies at Kurt Salmon. “Pre-Christmas selling has always been more valuable than post-holiday selling.” Aronson said more selling could shift to the days between Christmas and New Year’s. “After Christmas, there’s more gift-card redemption, but the net-net is that it’s still better to have more shopping days before Christmas.”
Judging by J.C. Penney’s promotional activity over the Memorial Day weekend, it seems clear that the beleaguered retailer is determined to fight for every incremental sale, which means it could likely be even more promotional at Christmas. “Penney’s major selling proposition was value,” Aronson said. “They’re pushing their traditional strength, which is highly value-oriented.” Retailers such as Macy’s, Kohl’s and Stage Stores, which share markets with Penney’s, may be impacted. “The hurt will be spread around the board,” he said. “Each one of those retailers will know what Penney’s is doing, and their reactions will be geared toward making sure they don’t lose whatever they gained [from Penney’s].”
Harry Ikenson, a retail analyst and consultant at Ikenson Research & Consulting, pointed out that when there are more days, there can be a lull in December, when consumers get shopping fatigue. He said there should be less of a lull this year as the shopping period is compressed.
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