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TOP CONTRIBUTORS

The Christmas Season or Holiday Season, typically lasting from "Black Friday" (the 4th Friday of November; the day after Thanksgiving) until New Year's Day. This an important sales period for retailers, as consumers increase spending for holiday gifts. In 2009, the Holiday Season represented 19.1% of total retail industry sales for the year.[1]

Key Events

Black Friday

"Black Friday" refers to the day after Thanksgiving. This day typically generates the largest revenue for participating retailers, as thousands of consumers rush to get a head start on holiday shopping. In 2010, retailers began Black Friday on Thanksgiving night. The early start caused a 28% increase in total sales on Thanksgiving Day. From this, total sales from Black Friday (and Thanksgiving Day) were $648 million total sales, a 9% increase compared to Black Friday in 2009.[2]

Cyber Monday

"Cyber Monday" refers to the first Monday after Thanksgiving. As its name implies, online shopping for the Holiday Season typically begins on this day. Participating retailers offer good deals on gifts and often have shipping deals as well. Such retailers realized record sales in 2010, as online sales on Cyber Monday totaled $1.03 billion -- a 16% increase compared to 2009.[3]

Green Monday

"Green Monday" refers to the second Monday of December.[4] Retailers, such as Amazon.com (AMZN) and Target (TGT), typically have special deals for this day. Total retail sales from Green Monday can serve as a confirming signal for Holiday Season performance. In 2010, Green Monday accumulated $954 million in online sales, a 12% increase compared to 2009.[5]

Free Shipping Day

"Free Shipping Day" was created to assist the procrastinating shopper. The actual date is negotiated to ensure that all participating retailers can ship their products to customers by Christmas Eve (December 24th).[6] Over 250 retailers participated in 2008 (the inaugural year), over 750 in 2009 and over 1,000 in 2010.[6] In 2010, Free Shipping Day resulted in $942 million in online sales, a 60.75% increase compared to Free Shipping Day online sales in 2009.[7]


Special events have driven online shopping to 15% growth rates year-over-year.
Special events have driven online shopping to 15% growth rates year-over-year.

Trends and Forces

Holiday Season Signals U.S. Economic Health

Like buying groceries and paying a mortgage, purchasing Holiday gifts is an essential part of a consumer's budget. From this, declining Holiday Season sales can signal contracting economic growth, as consumers cut back on spending. After the 2008 Financial Crisis, Holiday Season spending declined 4% compared to 2007.[8] The economic pessimism in turn caused retailers to hire 387,000 less employees during the Holiday Season.[1]Comparable store sales underperformed for the 2010 Holiday Season, as the metric grew 3.2% compared to 2009, but analysts expected a growth of 3.5%.[9] Despite the Financial Crisis, Holiday Season sales increased at an average rate of 2.45% in the past decade (2000-2010).[1]

Retail sales from Black Friday until Christmas Eve, compared to 2008.
Retail sales from Black Friday until Christmas Eve, compared to 2008.[10]
Going back to 1996, Holiday Season sales have been a good indicator of U.S. GDP growth.
Going back to 1996, Holiday Season sales have been a good indicator of U.S. GDP growth.[8]

Exponential Growth of Online Shopping

The past decade has seen a tremendous increase in online shopping for holiday gifts, as consumers have either become more cost-conscious or more lazy. The popularity of E-Commerce has even inspired a new shopping holiday, "Cyber Monday," which occurs on the Monday following Black Friday. From November 1st, 2010, until Black Friday, online sales totaled $11.64 billion.[2] Furthermore, online sales from November 1st, 2010, until December 31st, 2010, totaled $32.6 billion -- a 12% increase compared to the same period in 2009.[11]

Online sales have typically rallied up until the week before Christmas.
Online sales have typically rallied up until the week before Christmas.[3]

Retailers that Benefit from Holiday Season

Some retailers take advantage of consumer craze to purchase holiday gifts. These retailers typically have popular gift-giving products, such as electronics and apparel, and offer attractive deals.

  • Amazon.com (AMZN): Amazon has profited from the explosion in holiday online shopping.
  • Wal-Mart (WMT): To boost sales this year, Walmart offered free shipping during the Holiday Season,[12] and raised prices of toys.[13]
  • Best Buy (BBY): Electronics are popular holiday gifts, and Best Buy is typically a popular electronic shopping destination. In 2009, 39% of males made an electronics purchase during the Holiday Season.[1]
  • Macy's Inc. (M): Also a popular Black Friday destination, Macy's offers attractive sales to lure in customers.
  • Barnes & Noble (BKS): Holiday Season online sales increased 67% in 2010, driven by Nook sales.[14]
  • Tiffany & Co (TIF): Jewelry purchases are also popular holiday gifts. In 2009, the Holiday Season generated 29.5% of annual sales.[1]

Retailers that Face Opportunity Cost from Holiday Season

Some competitive retailers do not see significant sales increase during the holiday season. Dollar stores and other off-price retailers seem less attractive, as retailers such as Macy's Inc. (M) provide special deals that give competitive prices.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 National Retail Federation, "2010 Holiday Survival Kit"
  2. 2.0 2.1 Northwest Innovation, "Black Friday Sales Total $648M, 11/29/2010
  3. 3.0 3.1 comScore, "Billion Dollar Bonanza: Cyber Monday Surpasses $1 Billion in U.S. Spending as Heaviest Online Shopping Day in History," 12/1/2010
  4. PC World, "ComScore: Last Week Saw Strong Online Shopping," 12/24/2007
  5. comScore, "Green Monday Witnesses $954 Million in U.S. Online Spending as Second Heaviest Day on Record," 12/14/2010
  6. 6.0 6.1 Free Shipping Day website
  7. freeshippingday.com, "FREE SHIPPING DAY™ Beats Black Friday Online Sales," 12/20/2010
  8. 8.0 8.1 National Retail Federation, "NRF Forecasts Holiday Sales Increase of 2.3 Percent," 10/6/2010
  9. Financial Times, "Holiday US same-store sales disappoint," 1/6/2011
  10. Wall Street Journal, "Late Holiday Shopping Puts Retailers Ahead," 12/28/09 print
  11. comScore, "U.S. Online Holiday Shopping Season Reaches Record $32.6 Billion for November-December Period, Up 12 Percent vs. Year Ago," 1/5/2011
  12. Walmart Corporate, "Walmart Offers Free Shipping to Home This Holiday Season With No Minimum Purchase Requirement online at Walmart.com," 11/11/2010
  13. Daily Finance, "At Walmart This Holiday Season: Higher Toy Prices," 12/15/2010
  14. TechCrunch, "Barnes & Noble: Online Holiday Sales Up 67 Percent Thanks To The NOOK’s Popularity," 1/6/2011
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