Retailers are bracing for a big week as the days trickle down to Christmas.
ShopperTrak expects five of the 10 busiest shopping days of the year to fall within the next seven days. The surprising thing is the so-called Super Saturday—the Saturday before Christmas—isn't expected to be the busiest day.
According to ShopperTrak's Bill Martin, Super Saturday will rank third behind the busiest day, Black Friday, and the No. 2 day, next Thursday, Dec. 23., which Martin dubs "Father's Day," for all the men that are typically shopping on that day.
This is important when you consider that men have been increasing their spending this holiday season, while women have cut back a little bit on their spending. Men have been shopping for gifts and purchasing clothing for themselves this season, some researchers have said. (Watch the video below for more on that.)
All told, the last seven days before Christmas usually account for about a third of all holiday sales.
It's interesting to see the various approaches to the week.
Toys 'R Us is going on a marathon run. The toy retailer will keep its stores open for 88 consecutive hours beginning at 6 am on Tuesday, Dec. 21 to 10 pm on Christmas Eve. This is the first time all Toys 'R Us Stores across the country will stay open 24 hours per day during the final countdown to Christmas.
Other retailers may join the fray as well. One factor is the timing of Christmas Day, which falls on a Saturday this year. That's tough timing for retailers because they lose a Saturday of selling.
"It is very unfavorable," said Martin. But he suspects there's a big opportunity for retailers to regain some of those sales by extending hours on Sunday, Dec. 26, if possible.
In recent years, the weeks following Christmas have been an important time for retailers to ring up sales as consumers rush in to redeem gift cards they received over the holidays.
The crucial thing over the next few days will be the weather. According to Planalytics, the conditions on Saturday should be very favorable, especially when compared with last year when a snow storm hit the Northeast on Super Saturday.
“Cold temperatures and dry conditions are the perfect combination for holiday shopping,” commented Joe DeRugeris, Senior Marketing Manager for Planalytics. “There will be a few exceptions, notably in population areas of the West Coast facing periods of rain. We’re even looking at a possible snow event for the East on Sunday leading into Monday, but nothing comparable to last year’s ‘Snowmaggedon’ that was such a detriment to businesses on this critical weekend.”
After the holidays, it's still anyone's guess as to what consumers will do when it comes to spending.
In a recent Webcast, John Mariotti, president and CEO of the Enterprise Group said he has been seeing shoppers being less practical this holiday season.
“They just want to be able to go out and enjoy Christmas spending," Mariotti said. "The problem with that is we could have a very good fourth quarter in spending as people spend more than they intended to spend, we all know that feeling, and then have a very uneven first half of 2011. It’s hard to tell what’s going to happen in this regard."
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