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Retailers Ready For Early Start To Shopping Season

shoppingseason sept29 lt

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, retailers are prepared for an early start to the holiday shopping season by offering discounts earlier so that consumers can buy and receive the gifts they want in time, the National Retail Federation or NRF said.

The NRF also said it is launching a nationwide consumer education campaign called "New Holiday Traditions" to encourage consumers to shop safe and shop early amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the NRF's annual consumer holiday survey, 43 percent of holiday shoppers surveyed this year said they are waiting until November to start buying for the season, despite concerns surrounding COVID-19.

A majority of those surveyed, or 59 percent, said they plan to shift more of their shopping online compared with last year.

"In a year that has been full of uncertainty, we encourage consumers to avoid the last-minute stresses of the holiday season like long lines and shipping delays. Retailers are ready with inventory and sales, and there's no reason to wait until Thanksgiving weekend to kick off your gift shopping," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

November is historically the most popular month to start holiday shopping. The holiday shopping season is the most crucial period of the year for the retail industry.

Traditionally, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, marks the start of the holiday shopping season in the U.S. The NRF defines the holiday season as the period from November 1 through December 31.

The NRF's 'New Holiday Traditions' campaign will include advertising across digital and social media, radio and Connected TV. It will air from October through mid-November in target markets across the country.

In mid-January, the NRF said that holiday retail sales in 2019 grew 4.1 percent from the prior-year period to $730.2 billion. The figures, which exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, came in at the high end of the NRFs previously forecast range.

The strong increase in retail sales came even as last year's holiday season was among the shortest, as there were six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas compared to last year.

Retail is the largest private-sector employer in the U.S., contributing $3.9 trillion to annual GDP, and supporting one in four U.S. jobs, or 52 million working Americans.

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