Skip to Content

Marketing Lessons for a Short Holiday Season

The 2019 holiday shopping period is nearly a week shorter than last year. Will that affect businesses? Read on to find out.

The period between the day after Thanksgiving – Black Friday – and Christmas has long been a beneficial period for retailers’ business strategy. Consumers open their pocketbooks for gift-giving and holiday shopping. In fact, the end-of-the-year holiday period puts many retailers in the black for the year. It’s why Black Friday is called what it is.

But this year, the holiday shopping season is considerably shorter than usual – six days shorter than last year, including one weekend less. Does that mean consumers will spend less during this period, and thus the retail sector will be less in the black (or not in the black at all)? Does a shorter holiday period hold out any lessons for retailers and other businesses that depend upon these sales?

Retailers Will Roll Holiday Sales Earlier

Well, the answer is both yes and no, according to industry publication Retail Dive. It surveyed business leadership in the retail sector, only to find many people holding divergent opinions.

One dominant thought is that retailers will simply roll their holiday-themed marketing earlier than Black Friday this year, to make up for any shortfall in the traditional number of days. Rolling out holiday and holiday-themed sales earlier is, in fact, a dominant feature of at least the past five years.

Online retailers especially have made sales available before Thanksgiving because many consumers like to shop on Thanksgiving itself, rather than wait until Black Friday. Many observers pointed out that holiday-themed shopping arguably begins as soon as Halloween is over with, rather than waiting until Thanksgiving. While roughly 80% of consumers spend for the holidays in the long weekend between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, they certainly spend on different days as well.

Overall, the consensus was clear: businesses that depend on holiday shopping for their revenue and profits should ignore the calendar. Marketing efforts still matter to consumers.

Online shopping opportunities have blurred the traditional shopping days of year-end holidays.

Decisions Made on Financial Picture, Not Calendar

Moreover, as many people pointed out, the fact that there are fewer traditional shopping days really has no effect on what people plan to spend. Their plans depend much more on the state of their own finances and their sentiment about the financial outlook for the next year than on the number of shopping days available, primarily since online stores facilitate shopping at all hours of the day and night.

The only retailers and businesses likely to suffer from the shorter shopping season are those relying on impulse buys. These may suffer as there are fewer days in which people will be walking by them or indulging in impulsive purchases.

Finally, many industry observers believe that those retailers whose sales are soft or outright poor during the holidays will blame the length of the season. They urge that retailers begin targeting consumers with deals to coax them to spend.

Many retailers are doing this, offering free shipping, cashback from purchases, and loyalty cards, and awards. Wal-Mart and Target are both being particularly aggressive in their attempts to compete with retailing giant Amazon, whose website is abuzz with holiday promotions and whose shipping is always available for free and next day delivery.