retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Thanksgiving is still days away, but there is plenty of promotional activity taking place right now, with even more being planned for the days that make up the traditional beginning of the end-of-year holiday shopping season.

• Amazon.com’s sent out emails this morning announcing that it isn’t waiting for Cyber Monday, traditionally the biggest day of the season for online shopping, but already has put its Black Friday specials online.

And, Amazon says, “You shouldn’t have to stand in a long line to get a great deal. We’re searching for the best Black Friday deals everywhere - including deals other stores are planning - so we can meet or beat their prices and bring them to you even earlier. These limited-supply offers will go quickly, but we’ll add new ones throughout the day, every day this week, so you can skip the long lines and still save a bundle.”

• The Los Angeles Times reports this morning that Walmart has announced “a slew of Thanksgiving-week deals aimed at grabbing market share from competitors.

“The discount giant will kick off three days of savings on Thanksgiving Day, with about 150 online-only deals.

“Then at midnight, the vast majority of Wal-Mart stores will open for 24 hours; in a blow to rivals, the chain says it will match competitors' advertised Black Friday prices. In case you're not full from all that turkey and stuffing, stores will fuel shoppers with free treats including breakfast bars, doughnut holes, gum and Hershey Kisses ... And here's some Wal-Mart trivia to ponder while you're waiting in line: The discount chain says it will sell enough cameras on Black Friday to make a stack taller than 320 Empire State Buildings.”

• According to Shop.org’s eHoliday Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, nearly nine in ten (88.2%) retailers will have a special promotion for Cyber Monday, up from just 72.2 percent in 2007. Retailers’ Cyber Monday plans are more robust this year with nearly half of companies offering specific deals (49.0%, up from 42.9% last year) and many planning one-day sales (41.2% vs. 32.9% last year) and free shipping on all purchases (21.6% vs. 15.7% last year). In addition, the majority of retailers (62.7%) will send promotions and deals to shoppers through a special Cyber Monday email.

The survey also suggests that 54.5 percent of workers with Internet access, or 70.1 million people, will shop for holiday gifts from the office this year. Employees most likely to shop from work include men (56.5%) and young adults 25-34 (71.8%).

• And finally, here’s what is at stake as the shopping season begins. Forbes writes that “this year holiday spending is on the rise, if only slightly. According to the NRF, consumers plan to spend $689 in 2010 on holiday-related shopping, compared to $682 in 2009. Approximately 62% of shoppers say the economy will impact their spending—down from 65% last year—and will compensate by spending less and looking for sales.

“Interestingly, women appear to be more frugal than men when it comes to seasonal spending. Contrary to the fact that women decide more than 80% of all consumer goods purchases and are the primary parent in most households, men will spend about $20 more on holiday goods this year. The NRF estimates that men will spend $699, compared to women’s $679.

“The difference is likely how the sexes are buying. Men are more likely to shop at department stores, indicating that female shoppers are heading to discount stores in greater numbers. Moreover, 42% of women report beginning their holiday shopping before Halloween—compared to just 32% of men—so may be more likely to deal-hunt and have a plan.”
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