Holiday shopping bags

As the days get shorter, many retailers prepare for consumer buying power to exercise its influence in this year’s holiday shopping season. Many retailers have already seen evidence that the season has begun. Especially now that political ads are gone, traditional holiday marketing can begin.

New products, especially in the technology category, e.g. smartphones, are pulling forward consumer spending. Holiday gift promotions including layaways, web promos, free shipping and more are bringing an earlier start to spending. Traditional Black Friday promotions are being diminished as before Thanksgiving Day promotions are ready to take advantage of open wallets. When big boys like Target start moving this forward, we’re going to need to find new ways to even labeling the starting gate of retail profitability.

Projections for increased holiday sales are in the range of 2.5% to 4.5%. Last year registered 3.9% by the National Retail Federation. Consumer intentions are tough to predict, but with an adequate to strong economy, those numbers should hold true.

So this year, what strategies and trends are smart shoppers looking for? Here are four for your consideration:

  • Value continues to reign. Consumers are practical and smart. And budgets are still in place for most shoppers. So making the most of those dollars is more than early morning shopping stunts. It’s about what gift is most appropriate, at a good price.
  • Larger, family-type gifts with special financing. One gift for all. Whether it’s a major purchase for the home, a special vacation to plan toward, or something that will bring the family together; that’s where we may see more interest this season.
  • Also, shoppers tend to buy where they trust advice and receive service. Whether it means a technology gift or finding something unique, local stores – small businesses – are more likely to offer unique gifts backed by personal service.
  • Finally, year after year, studies show consumers respond to community/corporate social responsibility. Bringing the genuine nature of giving into the season will resonate.

All this simply suggests that small businesses have a chance to do well this year. Of course, they’ll need to market, promote, advertise and serve their customers with special holiday flair; but most already know that. So don’t feel the need to wait for Small Business Saturday, November 29th, to begin. Now is a good time to get started.