A Reader Asks: When is the official start date of the holiday / Christmas retail season?
WIB Answers: There is no official start date for retailers to begin launching their Christmas holiday season sales. In fact, each year, different retailers set new standards to follow so the Christmas / holiday retail sales season is dynamic and continues to evolve.
In 2010, for example, Best Buy launched their Christmas sales retail campaign on November 1 - a full ten days earlier than the struggling company did in 2009. On November 2, 2010, major department store, Kohls, launched their own holiday sales campaign. Even home improvement and hardware store giant, Lowe's, was all decked out for Christmas just days after the "Great Pumpkin" left.
Some stores, including Rite Aid, offered two aisles for shoppers to browse in October: Halloween costumes and candy, and a few aisles over, shoppers could purchase Christmas decorations and holiday items.
Does starting sales so early in the year have any benefits?
That's hard to say on a broad, general business scale because each business and market is different. But there are some obvious drawbacks that do span multiple industries:
- Pushing consumers too hard is almost always a great way to turn-off potential buyers.
- Few shoppers want to see a store decked out for the holidays before Halloween - and even the day after Halloween is just too soon.
- The cost of hiring seasonal help can increase if you need to hire earlier in the season.
So, when should you start holiday sales campaign?
That depends on two things and two things only:
- The nature of your business; and
- The market you serve.
The Nature of Your Business
There are many types of products and services that people need to plan for or purchase long in advance of the holidays. Examples include travel services, wedding arrangements, and big ticket items like new cars.
Offering a "Christmas in July" sale for cars, trucks, and similar items makes sense. Offering "Christmas in July" sales for winter season clothing and ice skates may not.
The Market You Serve
Some folks only shop towards the end of the year when the get their annual Christmas bonus. If your market does not have money to spend now, consider offering a layaway plan.
If you live in a cold climate where people associate the snap in the air with the ushering in of the holidays, you may find it easier to market winter items earlier in the year than you would in Florida or Southern California where people are less likely to be thinking scarves, mittens, and hats!
The Best Holiday Sales Tip Ever
Perhaps the best holiday sales tip for all business owners is to not become a lemming. It is always wise to study what the competition is doing but just because someone else started their holiday sales campaigns in October does not mean you should automatically do it too.