Stores hope for high season sales

Retailers began promoting holiday goods at Halloween

For most retail companies, the holiday season is one of the most lucrative times of the year.

For others, it may be their only hope, said James Lowry, a marketing professor.

Lowry, who has been watching shopping trends for 40 years, said the shortened season will affect retailers in a number of ways.

Thanksgiving fell later this year, eliminating several days from the holiday shopping season. Lowry said the scheduling will impact retailers because some people do not start holiday shopping until after Thanksgiving. Lowry said some stores focused promotions during the time before Thanksgiving.

"Retailers started right after Halloween by pushing merchandise and offers," Lowry said.

Deeper discounts or markdowns were used to lessen the impact of a shorter season.

While store representatives refused to comment on their sales records, Lowry said major chains would be greatly affected by the season. The impact could be a 2 to 4 percent decrease, Lowry said. To avoid a harsh loss, retailers will have to go the extra mile to get shoppers in the doors and to the registers.

Lowry said smaller retailers and smaller apparel chains, consisting of 10 to 30 stores, will need to take different measures to keep up with larger retailers, Lowry said.

"The power of larger retailers is in promoting and selling merchandise at a lower price than smaller chains can," Lowry said. "Consumers see lower price as a better value."

Stores like Kohls, Target and Wal-Mart are popular choices for providing lower prices, Lowry said.

For stores like K-Mart, the season could determine if they can compete with specialty stores like Lowes, Home Depot and Circuit City.

K-Mart needs to differentiate themselves from power retailers, Lowry said. Lowry said because K-Mart cannot compete directly on price, they will focus on advertising customer service.

"They also will try to increase the amount of upscale merchandise that has better quality and is more prestigious," Lowry said.

While major chains will be reaching for originality, apparel chains like American Eagle and Gap will be featuring special sales, discounts, and unique promotion, Lowry said.

"These stores will promote more through direct mail," Lowry said.

As "20 percent off" fliers fill mailboxes, stores like Abercrombie and Fitch take a different route with racy catalogues or live models in the store. Chains like Gap and Old Navy are better known for their television commercials. Lowry said other stores focus on online promotion. Offers like free shipping or special online prices may drive customers out of the stores and onto their computers, Lowry said.


More from The Daily

This Week's Digital Issue

Loading Recent Classifieds...