Has Covid Killed the Single-Day Sale?

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Limited-time offers and one-day sales are a mainstay of the holiday shopping season. But this year is unlike any other, and retailers are taking a different approach.

With Covid-19 restrictions limiting the number of customers who can be inside a store at any given time, retailers are looking at extending the shopping season to accommodate socially distant crowds. Home Depot has already started adapting its approach by extending Black Friday specials to nearly two months. The retailer has also announced that it will be putting promotions on its mobile app first in a bid to boost online shopping and curbside pickups.

Walmart has also jumped on board with this new strategy. The retailer is spreading out its Black Friday in-store shopping across several days, hoping to avoid masses and offer e-commerce relief.

Other retailers are expected to follow suit. While months-long sales lack the hype that surrounds once-a-year offers, retailers are using special incentives to keep shoppers engaged, like giving the best deals to people who belong to their loyalty programs and use their mobile apps. They’re also leaning more heavily on social media to highlight sales of the day. It’s a strategy that could have long-term implications, particularly if elongated sales events show the kind of return on investment that makes retailers want to continue with the strategy once the pandemic has passed.

“Single-day sale events have traditionally been successful at driving a high volume of sales, but the pandemic has highlighted a need for additional deal days to get rid of overstocked inventory and make up for lost sales over the last several months,” says Marcel Hollerbach, chief marketing officer at Productsup.

Hollerbach says month-long sales events are already showing long-term logistical value for retailers.

“It’s unlikely crowds will ever pack in-store again due to contagion risks, but compensating storefront deals with online deals can overwhelm the supply chain and cause delivery delays and backed-up orders,” he says. “I expect retailers to continue stretching out their events to provide customers with the opportunity to get great deals both online and in-store without the fear of packed crowds or shipping expectations falling flat.”

Other changes that retailers can make to overcome the obstacles that come with hosting a holiday shopping season in the middle of a pandemic include making sure product data is consistent across all channels and playing off in-store strengths online.

“If a sale event continues for a month, the retailer needs to make sure product listings are up to date and show the same information for sale prices, inventory levels and shipping timelines for the entire event duration on all platforms. If a shopper sees a sale is running on Facebook, then they should see the same sale details displayed on the retailer’s website, Google Shopping, and other channels they might use,” Hollerbach says.

Although extended sales don’t traditionally have the same urgency as two-day events, Hollerbach says they can still be designed in a way that promotes certain benefits, like shoppers having more time to browse products and deals, and longer opportunities for interaction. Whereas limited-time events like Amazon Prime Day or Cyber Monday could sneak up and pass certain shoppers by, extended events like Home Depot’s months-long Black Friday sale should allow plenty of time for customers to shop.

Optimizing the multi-channel e-commerce strategy during that period will be key, and retailers should already be working on getting their products listed on Google Shopping, along with their own websites and social media properties, if they haven’t already.

“Retailers’ main challenge when dropping prices is getting in front of as many customers as possible to drive sales volume,” Hollerbach says. “Combining the two fronts to create stellar brand experiences in-person that are emulated online will propel retailers past their competitors.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.Rainbow over Montclair

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.