The traditional holiday shopping period associated with the winter holidays is the stretch of Thanksgiving through Christmas. This year’s calendar has some interesting quirks.
The early birds have already started their holiday shopping for gifts and décor. However, the three-day shopping period around the Columbus Day observance (Saturday, October 8 through Monday, October 10) didn’t seem to excite shoppers. Some of that may be related to the recent increases in food and gasoline prices that have had an impact on household budgets. Amazon’s second Prime Day sales and those of its competitors around the same time may have siphoned off some sales from brick-and-mortar locations.
After the Halloween clearances following October 31, the next time likely to see retailers offering holiday discounts is the three-day Veterans Day weeks (Friday, November 11 through Sunday, November 13). Consumer caution about spending may not see much relief. Shoppers are going to be focused on cost, but also on value. At a time when stocks at stores are uneven and often meager in the more sought-after segments, consumers may be forced to make substitutions or give IOUs on that particular item. Many will turn to internet retailers in hopes of finding the right gift.
The calendar timing means that there are 31 days between the unofficial start of the holiday shopping period. Given staffing shortages and the need to keep current workforces happy, many retailers will skip Thanksgiving Day openings and opt for bright and early on Black Friday (November 24). However, many shoppers will be combing e-tailers’ sites to line up where the best bargains are likely to be found on Cyber Monday (November 28).
Normally the timing of Hanukkah is earlier, but in 2022 it is closer to the dates for Christmas. Therefore, retail activity may not get the post-Black Friday bump it often sees in the first full week of December.
Also interesting is that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day fall on a weekend (Saturday and Sunday, December 24-25). This means that most office workers will have off on Monday, December 26. This could be a busy day as consumers return gifts and shop for clearance deals which, however, could be scanty this year. It’s also probable that the Monday holiday will lead to workers, who have to take mandatory leave to use up accrued days, starting their holiday earlier on Friday, December 23.
The timing of this means that the holiday shopping period may look slower than normal early in December with a rush to shop closer to the actual holidays. Much will depend on if consumers are worried about limited supplies, in which case it will buoy online shopping rather than in-store spending. However, the momentum for discretionary spending appears to be fading as 2022 progresses. It could be a soft season for retailers of all types.
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