With less than 120 shopping days until Christmas, retailers scramble
By Jay Keller
To some, this sounds a little overboard but many retailers are planning for a perpetual holiday season in 2013 so it’s never too early this year to start trimming the list by picking up those stocking-stuffers and other items to wow that special someone this December.
While Thanksgiving Day was the new Black Friday in 2012 with a record 247 million shoppers, retailers in 2013 might just bypass the landmark shopping holiday and offer up December-holiday-related promotions, promises and displays to tempt the frugal shopper.
Retailers got an early jump on back-to-school sales in 2013, kicking off immediately after the July 4th holiday, the first sign that the holiday-shopping season, which runs generally from Aug. to Jan., is creeping into customer’s lives ever earlier.
It’s now the end of August and big-name retailers are already thinking ahead by launching early salvos in the pricing war.
As such, customers will pay the same price, or less, in the store as they would by shopping online at those competitors mentioned above plus Sears.com, Kmart.com, buybuyBaby.com, Meijer.com, diapers.com and BabyDepot.com.
And, equally so, each retailer, both large and small, countered strategically with their own take or version on the same theme – matching ad prices and low-price guarantees.
Beyond the price war was Walmart’s move to tempt holiday shoppers with free layaway starting Sept. 13 through Dec. 13, except for Walmart Facebook fans who get access two days earlier on Sept. 11-12.
By waiving the five-dollar fee currently required to open a layaway account, customers won’t have to pay opening fees or worry about gift-card reimbursements.
New on Walmart’s eligible list of layaway items are infant toys and car speakers or stereos, completing the rest of the inventory such as electronics, toys, jewelry, small appliances and select sporting goods.
“Times are tough and it’s not easy for many Americans – they are watching every penny,” Walmart executive Duncan Mac Naughton told Walmart associates during its annual holiday meeting last Wednesday. “All year long, but especially during the holidays, our customers need a low-price leader.”
Mac Naughton pledged to help families have a great Christmas on a budget by doing “everything we did last year to help Americans save money – plus more.”
What will be interesting for customers to see will be whether or not all bets are off during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which usually runs Nov.17-25.