As we head into the final quarter of 2017, businesses should already be prepared for the big holiday shopping season. In fact, US companies probably even started to order and stock up. After all, the US relies on the holiday season to turn their ledgers from red to black. (Thus the term Black Friday, the official-unofficial start of the Christmas Shopping season near the end of November.) However, Black Friday and Christmas shopping represent big business in western markets, so every business should be bracing for what could be a good season.
How Big is a Big Holiday Season?
Because Christmas shopping impacts the US economy so much, experts spill a lot of ink on research and predictions. Most experts foresee an increase in holiday spending this year over 2016 thanks to some economic indicators. For example, better labor conditions and more disposable income in America should lead to more spending. However, how big is a big holiday season to analysts? Deloitte expects retailers to see a 4.5% increase in year-on-year sales, compared to a 3.6% rise in 2016. Moreover, they see eCommerce sales growing by as much as 21%, year over year. In 2016, that was closer to 14%.
Starting Earlier and Going Global
For decades, US retail saw the start of the holiday season as the Friday after Thanksgiving. It made sense when malls and department stores dominated sales. After all, Thanksgiving always fell on the third Thursday of November. Thus, they saw the de facto four-day weekend (with the family, four weeks out from Christmas) as a great reason to go shopping.
eCommerce helped break that logic. Black Friday went from a strictly American fixture to a global online event, particularly for Amazon, to promote sales. It also led a second promotional day called Cyber Monday. Both events separate the shopping season concept from a set calendar and market. So, non-Americans now get in on the deals, while Americans don’t wait until November to shop for Christmas. Yet, while 80% of American consumers plan to shop earlier, they still expect to spend more over the Black Friday weekend than last year.
Want a Big Holiday? Be Multichannel
The Christmas shopping season tends to put a spotlight on the current state of sales channels. Every year, people spend most of their money in physical stores. However, eCommerce sales growth outpaces other retail growth. Moreover, consumers use online channels to begin their shopping journey. Shoppers surveyed in the US, UK, and Germany use Google and Amazon primarily for gift ideas, but they will also search Facebook, eCommerce websites, and other channels.
This all seems to point to an advantage multichannel (particularly online) sellers have. They simply cast a wider net combining the power of eCommerce websites and marketplace channels to sell to more customers.
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