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The holiday shopping season is likely to be longer this year, with the sales push starting with Halloween in October, rather than with Thanksgiving in November.



With the COVID virus still a very salient factor in all major markets, where at the very least strict containment measures still remain force, retailers are coming to terms with the reality that they will have to approach the coming holidays season differently to how they have in years past, so as to salvage part of what clearly has been a very challenging year.

One of the strategies that seems to be gaining in popularity is a lengthening the holiday period, which in Western countries traditionally has kicked off at the start the Thanksgiving weekend in the United States, which takes place during the last week of November.

Quoted by the Financial Times, Dick Hayne, the co-founder of Urban Outfitters, said the retail chain was looking “for an extended holiday shopping period, with sales beginning earlier, reaching a plateau sooner, but missing the peaks characteristic of prior years as consumers seek to avoid crowds.”

Indeed, many companies are now planning to begin their seasons around the time of Halloween, effectively adding four weeks to the period that, to date, has extended less than five weeks in the run up to Christmas, followed by another week or two of post-Christmas sales.

Analysts say that, as things are, the holiday season has been creeping forward, with ecommerce being cited as having diminished the importance of key shopping days like Black Friday, when consumers customarily have packed the stores. But this year that trend is likely to be even more pronounced, as many will shy away from crowded shopping areas, and possibly may be forced to stay home, if predictions about a rise in virus infections during the colder winter months come to pass.


In the United States, the National Retail Federation is launching a nationwide consumer education campaign called “New Holiday Traditions.” It is designed to encourage consumers to shop safe and shop early amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

NRF’s “New Holiday Traditions” campaign will include advertising across digital and social media, radio and Connected TV that will air from October through mid-November in target markets across the country.

“This is going to be a historic holiday season and while some memorable traditions may change, the tradition of retailers supporting their customers and their communities is stronger than ever. That is why we encourage consumers to adopt two new traditions this year – shop safe and shop early – so we can all celebrate a happy and healthy holiday,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said.

A largely deserted shopping mall during the COVID crisis. Brick and mortar retailers are feeling the pinch.

“Retailers are prepared for an early start to the shopping season, offering discounts earlier to ensure consumers can find the gifts they want, in stock at the price they want to pay, delivered at the time they want to receive them,” Shay stated.

“Why do I see this as one of the most serious threats to consumer confidence that we have ever faced? Because when those consumers realize that their laboratory-grown diamonds have essentially no resale value, they will feel deceived and cheated. They will likely not only lose confidence in the unique selling proposition of laboratory-grown diamonds, but also in the USP of natural diamonds and the USP of jewelry in general,” Cavalieri stated.

Ecommerce is likely to take a larger share of the retailer’s pie in 2020, even more than many has expected at the start of the year.


Despite concerns related to the coronavirus, 43 percent of American holiday shoppers surveyed by NRF this year say they are waiting until November to start buying for the season, although  59 percent indicated that they plan to shift more of their shopping online compared with last year.

And it is not only in the United States that brick and mortar retailers are feeling nervous. In the United Kingdom, where Christmas shopping has accounted for 25 to 30 percent of the high street retailers’ annual revenue, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), 64 percent of shoppers preferred to shop in person in 2019, as opposed to online.

But 2019 may be different, before the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping in the United Kingdom accounted for just 20 percent of consumer retail spending. Today according to the country’s Office for National Statistics, the figure stands at about 30 percent.

Online giants like Amazon are expecting to cash in. In the UK, the e-commerce behemoth said it is planning to hire 7,000 more permanent staff by the end of the year and has created 20,000 temporary roles. This is at a time that brick and mortar stores have members of their workforce on furlough.

“The industry was going through a period of transformation before the pandemic began, and it has essentially kicked us five years down the road overnight,” says Kyle Monk, director of retail insights and analytics at BRC, speaking to WIRED. “And there are costs that come with that. Stores are profitable whereas online isn’t in the same way, so even moving stuff online can mean a hammering for profitability.”