Holiday Blur: Retail Merchandise Accelerates

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As of this writing, the trees, menorahs, and tinsel are still in living rooms and consumers have barely finished recycling their wrapping boxes, washing dishes from their December feasts, and returning from family visits.  The ball in Times Square hasn’t dropped. And yet, retail merchandise for upcoming holidays is already on the shelves at many MULO (multi-location) brand stores.

Paper Source (a MULO retailer with 129 physical locations) already has a page of 2024 Valentine’s Gift Suggestions on its site (optimized for search, of course!)

And, although magazines are mostly digital these days, several consumer publications already have their February gift-giving content up on their sites. This makes sense because long lead times on print magazines might as well be leveraged for online retail merchandise searches.

Those on the first page of a search may ultimately generate more traffic and readership (which, in turn, leads to advertiser revenue).

Retailers and restaurants have always had to plan far in advance to ensure they have enough time for retail inventory ordering and merchandise marketing planning.

The pandemic and supply chain issues have probably made brands a little more conscientious about advance ordering and planning. Retailers are also looking for creative ways to drive more consumers to their sites and stores and to pick up retail merchandise for the upcoming holidays (sometimes at a discount).

Digital advertising can be purchased on the fly, so the need for lots of planning has diminished, however.

But is this holiday overlap confusing or helpful to the consumer? Are we living in a world where we can barely wrap our heads around New Year’s Eve when we start to think about what to get Mom for Mother’s Day or how we’ll celebrate July 4th weekend?

Consumers have been pushing back online, with shoppers chattering on Facebook and other media about how they just saw shelves full of hearts in big brand retail stores when they had just popped in to pick up a last-minute Xmas gift.

Search St. Patrick’s Day at Target in December and you’ll find an assortment of merchandise that has nothing to do with the wearing of the green. However, the retail store wants to ensure that consumers are lured to their site year-round. Clever or manipulative? Or some of both?

About 20 percent of retailers are dependent on holidays for survival, so accelerating existing holidays and creating new ones is a critical part of their business. And 35 percent of consumers are likely to make impulse purchases.

So, although the pre-holiday strategy may seem flawed to some, perhaps it’s part of the roadmap to MULO’s survival in the years ahead.

Now let’s all get back to buying our 2024 Halloween costumes!




Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in, the New York Times and Forbes.
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