The holiday sales season to begin Oct. 10, earlier than normal

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 1,114 views 

The Christmas creep of the past few years will move even earlier in 2020 as retailers work to pull sales forward amid a sluggish supply chain and ongoing consumer fears around safety from COVID-19.

Coresight Research CEO Deborah Weinswig said she has been hearing from retailers of all sizes since June about how they might elongate the season not just to help raise revenue but prevent hiccups in the supply chain which is still sluggish for many categories from apparel to home furnishings.

An alliance between Coresight, Shopkick and dozens of retailers and brands of all sizes is set to launch a new shopping event dubbed the 10.10 Shopping Festival for October 10-11. This is a time when retailers will advertise with the 10.10 logo and offer holiday values for items consumers want on the 10.10 site launched by Shopkick. Weinswig said there is a rewards element that can be given to charity or spent by the shopper. She said there is also a gamification element to help draw shoppers into stores which will be a plus for those retailers who participate.

She said this program is a way to re-conceptualize giving to nonprofits that have also struggled greatly amid the COVID-19 crisis. During a webinar on Wednesday (Sept.16), Weinswig said the Oct. 10 date was crucial because retailers and consumers are concerned about getting the products they want in time for Christmas. The normal push for online shopping from Nov. 15 to Dec. 15 is not early enough to ensure products coming from outside the U.S. will arrive in time for the Christmas holiday.

“If we don’t pull it forward, then it won’t happen,” Weinswig said.

The 10.10 Shopping Festival will also be a way for retailers to offer products consumers want via in-store and online options without heavy discounting that typically goes into Black Friday promotions. Weinswig said consumers do want values but staying safe and getting the products they want in time for Christmas will likely trump the need for deep discounts. She said consumers are concerned about item scarcity in some categories and they will buy the products when and where they can find them.

A consumer survey conducted by Coresight Research on Sept. 14 found 55% of respondents are still uncomfortable going to shopping centers. A whopping 98% were not comfortable in public places and 30% said they will start their holiday shopping earlier this year because most will be bought online and they want to ensure they get the shipments in time.

Shay Gipson, the principal consultant and brand builder for online fashion site Fashwire, said the chic fashion site is happy to be part of the 10.10 Shopping Festival and will feature fashion apparel of up and coming designers from across the globe. She said Fashwire is also happy to give consumers a chance to help charities or get something special for themselves with each purchase they make.

Coresight said the 10.10 Shopping Festival was somewhat modeled after China’s Singles’ Day, which is held on Nov. 11, or 11/11 and has become the world’s largest shopping event. Amazon also pushed back its Prime Day event from July to early October to ensure it has enough electronics inventory because many of the component parts are imported.

Analysts expect an early October Prime Day could steal up 10% of the traditional Black Friday and Cyber Week sales. There is also the chance that last-mile delivery will run out of capacity putting as many as 700 million gifts at risk of not arriving in time for Christmas. Analysts also predict retailers that offer curbside pickup will see a 90% increase in sales this year as more consumers stay out of stores.

Weinswig said retailers have to think more collaboratively this year because many can’t risk their future on big Black Friday sales given the hole they are already in. She said as consumers shop more online, retailers will need to find ways to draw them into stores. The gamification element of the 10.10 Shopping Festival is designed to increase foot traffic in October. She said stores must also be successful at fulfilling curbside delivery orders and still having enough merchandise on shelves from those shoppers who do come inside.