HOLIDAY SHOPPING SEASON KICKS OFF

Will Saturday, Oct. 10 be the Black Friday of 2020? If a trio of retail partners have their way, it will be.

That’s because shopping rewards app Shopkick is teaming up with retail insights firm Coresight Research and ecommerce site Fashwire to launch what they’re calling the 10.10 Shopping Festival to “engage American consumers and revitalize retail,” according to a Shopkick spokesperson. The intent behind this shopping holiday is to increase revenue for brands and retailers while rewarding consumers for shopping early, the spokesperson said, noting that “major retailers” have signed on in categories like footwear, apparel, electronics and home goods.

10.10 is, of course, reminiscent of the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, more commonly known as Singles Day, which takes place on Nov. 11 each year. Last year, Chinese ecommerce platform Alibaba rang up a cool $38.4 billion in just 24 hours on Singles Day, continuing its streak as the world’s biggest shopping day. By way of comparison, the U.S. retail record is $9.4 billion, which was set on Cyber Monday 2019. The U.S. also saw its biggest Black Friday to date last year as consumers spent $7.4 billion.

“Say goodbye to one day of frenzied shopping”

Those single-day holiday shopping records are likely to stand for at least another year as retailers grapple with a pandemic-era holiday season. Multiple retailers have announced they will be closed on Thanksgiving this year, ending a four-year holiday sale creep that netted $4 billion last year. And while retailers’ specific plans for Black Friday 2020 remain unclear, it’s a pretty safe bet they will make at least some accommodations to limit crowds. Walmart, for example, recently announced “an all-new Black Friday experience” in which it will spread Black Friday deals out throughout the season and offer more promotions online. America’s largest retailer noted that it wants to provide “a safe shopping experience” and highlighted ongoing initiatives such as overnight closures, requiring face masks for customers and employees, and “traffic management.”

Similarly, the Home Depot has said it is “reinventing Black Friday” with deals starting in early November that will last through December. The home improvement store also nodded to safety concerns in its statement about the sales: “Say goodbye to one day of frenzied shopping and enjoy Black Friday savings all season long without the stress and crowds.”

Now, with Amazon’s Prime Day reportedly kicking off on Oct. 13 and the promotional halo it generates for other retailers, it’s even more likely we’ll see holiday shopping start well before Halloween. Amazon will also reportedly begin offering its own Black Friday deals on Oct. 26. An Amazon spokesperson confirmed its holiday season and deals events will be earlier this year, but she did not comment on dates.

In a blog post, Gartner retail analyst Claire Tassin agreed that retailers will respond to the challenges of the 2020 holiday season by starting promotions in October. That includes additional retailers like Kohl’s, L Brands and Macy’s, which she said have “all referenced pulling forward promotions in recent earnings calls, with many, many more to follow.”

The early bird gets the holiday gift

So does that mean the timing is right for an even earlier holiday-themed Singles Day in America? Yes and no. “If you’d asked me two years ago, I would have said no way Singles Day takes off in the U.S.,” Tassin said. “It’s too close to Thanksgiving and all these other promotions.” This year, however, marquee dates like Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be less meaningful in the wake of October promotions, although she noted we’ll still likely see some traditional shopping behavior on those dates.

“I think we’re going to see much more aggressive promotions,” she said. “And, unfortunately, I think we’re going to be seeing a lot of heavy promotional behaviors earlier on in the season.” But whether these promotions will be tied to the 10.10 Shopping Festival remains to be seen. Tassin, for one, said she hadn’t seen much promotional activity for 10.10 as of Sept. 21. Forrester analyst Sucharita Kodali said: “I suppose it depends on how many retailers jump on board and how much news attention it gets.” Bill Thorne, svp of communications and public affairs at the National Retail Federation (NRF), did not comment on 10.10 specifically, but said holiday spend has been “surprisingly robust” so far this year, which shows “how both consumers and retailers are adapting and finding innovative ways to safely celebrate the holidays despite this year’s extraordinary circumstances.”

He, too, echoed the drumbeat of early sales.

“Retailers are prepared to serve customers to meet all their holiday needs and are embracing the new holiday tradition of shopping early,” Thorne added. “They are offering deep discounts earlier than ever to ensure consumers can find the holiday deals on the products they want at the price they want to pay.”

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SOURCE: AdWeek

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