Does a Shorter Shopping Season Between Thanksgiving and Christmas Affect Retail Sales?
When compared with previous years, the 2019 holiday shopping season has six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. What does this mean for retailers? Does less time for shopping translate to stagnating sales?
To find out, we did an analysis of holiday trends dating back to 2013, the last time Thanksgiving was so late on the calendar. We looked across multiple retail verticals, including home decor, children’s items, apparel, and electronics, and the results revealed an interesting trend that impacts how retailers should plan their holiday campaigns this year.
The Big Takeaway?
People use Thanksgiving as their marker for when to start and finish their holiday shopping. Sales ramp up in the two weeks to three weeks prior to the holiday no matter which week it falls, but decline sharply if it falls earlier, and gradually if it falls later.
Let’s unpack this a bit more:
- When there's a shorter period of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas (as there will be in 2019), there's a gradual decline in sales after the peak, offering more opportunities to generate sales with campaigns.
- The opposite is true when Thanksgiving is earlier. There's a steeper drop in sales and consumer interest, which reduces the chances marketers have to drive conversions with their campaigns.
The goal should be to ride the sales rush as long as you can to generate as many transactions as possible. The next question is: How? Here are some tips to help retailers make the most of this year’s holiday season.
4 Tips to Help You Win the 2019 Holiday Season
- Be ready when people are in the mind-set for shopping. No matter how early the decorations start going up, the early seasonal buzz doesn’t necessarily translate to sales. People won’t buy until they’re in the mind-set to do so. Our contextual intelligence insights show that content mentioning the holidays ramps up after Thanksgiving and peaks around Dec. 20. And because holiday trends come and go faster than the seasons, have your campaigns ready to launch with creative, messaging, media plans and tools all set for the week of Thanksgiving.
- Increase the frequency of touchpoints after Thanksgiving and throughout December. Consider pushing additional campaign elements to take advantage of the gradual decline in sales after Thanksgiving. With interest remaining high for a longer period of time this year, this approach may increase the chances of making a sale.
- Have a strong presence on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday, and Free Shipping Day. These are the biggest shopping days of the year, so it goes without saying that they should play a central role in your holiday strategy. Consider increasing or focusing mail drops and digital media right before these days for maximum effect.
- Finalize all your direct mail logistics early, and put a contingency plan in place. There are many moving parts to direct mail, so it’s essential to have your ducks in a row to avoid or reduce any last-minute panic. And an emergency action plan can also pay dividends should things go awry or the unexpected happens.
This is the year for retailers to capitalize on the shorter holiday shopping season. With these tips and some data-backed insights, it’s time to tie the bow on your holiday campaign plans and jingle all the way into the new year.
Tricia King is senior director of retail partnerships at Oracle Data Cloud, where she supports retailers by creating holistic omnichannel marketing strategies across their direct mail, email, social and display advertising programs.