Did Retailers Promote Their Holiday Sales Too Early?

Christmas is coming earlier every year — and the sales numbers for the 2018 holiday season thus far prove it.

While the weekend after Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday both broke all-time sales records, the deals got a head start and many lingered through what Target and other retailers have dubbed Cyber Week.

“Year over year, we have seen a continuous shift forward in the market around the timing of deals and consumer spending in general. Black Friday, once regarded as a single day to snag the deepest discounts possible, has now been stretched across the entire month of November,” said Krista Corrigan, retail analyst for analytics firm Edited.

Corrigan calls the month Black November based on the volume of deals and holiday marketing that starts on (or even before) kids start divvying up their Halloween hauls.

Edited found that of the stores it tracks, Old Navy was first out of the chute with a holiday-themed email on Oct. 13. Black Friday saw its first mention in a Kohl’s Nov. 1 promotional e-blast.

And more of the actual sales themselves began earlier as well. In 2017, half of all discounts happened between the Monday and Thursday leading up to Thanksgiving. This year, that number rose to 67 percent. According to Edited, much of those initial discounts were on existing stock for which retailers were taking further reductions instead of newer goods brought in for the holiday period.

That said, more new products were getting the markdown treatment, too.

“There has been a steady climb over the past three years of the number of products retailing in November that also saw a first price reduction in the same month,” Corrigan said. “What began as 6.5 percent in 2016 has now jumped to 7.5 percent in 2018.”

It seems the early promotions worked. Corrigan said the Tuesday before Thanksgiving was the No. 2 day for stockouts, following just behind Saturday, Nov. 24.

The Tuesday before the holiday gave consumers the widest range of price reductions, making up almost a quarter of all discounts offered from that day through Cyber Monday. After that, the number of goods on sale declined but the discounts got deeper.

“On Monday the 19th, 33 percent of discounts fell into the 20-30 percent off bracket. On Black Friday, this was 24 percent, while those with price reductions over 30 percent increased from half of the discounted assortment to 74 percent,” Corrigan said.

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