November 19, 2021
With stores fully open to the public, consumers are returning to brick-and-mortars to find the perfect holiday items for their homes. The National Retail Association predicts that nearly 2 million more people than last year are expected to shop from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday this year, even as consumers continue holiday shopping earlier in the season. The retail industry trade association also expects holiday sales during November and December to total between $843.4 billion and $859 billion, exceeding 2019’s pre-pandemic levels.
While supply chain and worker shortages are still plaguing retailers, many are changing how they operate to keep sales flowing positively forward. Let’s check out what some leading retailers are doing to boost sales and what changes they plan to make to keep up with the holiday rush.
Markdowns are a tried-and-true method retailers employ to move inventory and entice consumers into their storefronts – virtual or physical. Surprisingly, a few that include Macy’s Inc. (Tii:M) plan to offer fewer price reductions this year. Supply chain issues and higher customer demand aren’t leaving much in terms of excess inventory that needs to be pushed out to make way for newer items. Macy’s, which celebrated the 95th Thanksgiving Day Parade by launching 9,510 limited edition Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) to support Make-A-Wish, is also building upon its digital platform. The retailer recently announced plans to launch a curated digital marketplace that will enable select third-party merchants to sell their products on macys.com and bloomingdales.com.
The world’s largest company by revenues, global retailer Walmart Inc. (Tii:WMT) did not kick off the season by launching holiday specials. The company instead planned to have Black Friday specials throughout November. Walmart also announced plans to address what it calls three key shopping trends expected for this unique holiday season: an increase in online shopping, evolving wish lists and the need for a fast, easy – and safe – shopping experience. To that end, the retailer will hire more than 20,000 seasonal associates in its eCommerce fulfillment centers, stock up on non-traditional holiday gifts that have become popular since the pandemic’s onset (athleisure, loungewear, sleepwear, outdoor grills, bicycles and exercise/sporting equipment). For consumers shopping in-person, stores will have safety protocols that include required face coverings, plastic barriers at points of sale, and traffic management.
Rival Amazon.com Inc. (Tii:AMZN) has taken a different approach. The eCommerce giant is gearing up to offer discounts on more products than ever through its 48-hour Black Friday event. The sale includes new gift guides Oprah’s Favorite Things, Experts’ Gift Picks Gift Guide and Luxury Stores Gift Guide. Amazon is hiring an additional 125,000 full- and part-time positions and 150,000 seasonal jobs to keep up with expected demand. The company also reported that it is employing multiple forms of transportation – including planes, trucks, ships and vans – and well-stocked warehouses to help combat supply chain challenges this holiday season.
Similarly, Target Corp. (Tii:TGT) jumped out of the gate early. On October 31, the Minneapolis-based retail giant kicked off a new series of week-long Holiday Best deals, featuring deep discounts every week. Target increased the number of deals available for Black Friday via its same-day services and announced deals on electronics, toys, kitchen appliances, vacuums, video games, apparel, beauty, and more. In what will surely add to in-store traffic, Disney shop-in-shops will launch across the country in time for the holiday season. The Disney at Target stores will expand to more than 160 locations across the U.S. Target will also grow its dedicated online Disney experience. Target also plans to add more than 18,000 Drive Up spots and triple the number of employees in its store fulfillment centers.
National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay attributes his organization’s strong sales prediction to rising income and strong household balance sheets. If these projections and retailers’ heavy investing in their respective inventories, supply chains and marketing are any indication, the 2021 holiday season is poised to reach record levels.
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