By Amanda Ferrante, Assistant Editor
The good news from the recently wrapped holiday season, was that retailers were very creative and pushed a lot of the right buttons to drive cross channel sales. The bad news is the efforts still fell short was and most results still fell short of modest sales projections, and retailers are still pushing hard to drive results during the last days of December.
Retailers were like little children waiting for Santa this year, lying out discount cookies for hungry shoppers to come in and make their last-minute purchases. And as talk of procrastination danced in retailers’ heads, the cycle became clear- shoppers are still waiting to get the best deals, and retailers are still slashing prices to bring consumers in.
Between extended hours and discounted prices, retailers went above and beyond to bring in shoppers during the peak holiday season. During the final weekend before Christmas, Macy’s kept eight of its stores, including its flagship in New York, open all-night from Friday through Christmas Eve.
Though its audience is generally in bed early, Toys ‘R’ Us kept its doors open until midnight. JC Penney had its “Ultimate Christmas Sale,” the Friday and Saturday before Christmas, offering a 60% discount on apparel, cosmetics, and jewelry. The department store had doorbuster specials Friday from 4 p.m. to midnight and Saturday from 6 a.m. to noon. Target’s “red-hot deals” emphasize electronics like digital cameras, portable gaming systems, the iPhone and iPod, and the must-have game, Guitar Hero.
Despite in-store shopping taking a hit, online shopping continued its climb this year. According to comScore, From Nov. 1 to Dec. 21, American consumers spent more than $26 billion on retail items online, a gain of 19% over the same period last year. The gain is attributed partly to free shipping offers and holiday discounts.
Though the holiday shopping season did not make as much an impact as hoped, retailers are making an earnest attempt to maximize the last days of the year. Though many online retailers offer free shipping during the holidays, it’s been extended in effort to entice customers.
Red Envelope, an online and catalog gift retailer, partnered with MasterCard to offer free 2-Day shopping when customers use their MasterCard for a purchase greater than $50.
Both Overstock.com and LL Bean are offering free shipping with no minimum purchase, and Zappos.com, an online shoe retailer, offers free overnight shipping. Barnes & Noble offers free shipping on orders of $25 or more through the remainder of the year.
In addition to the shipping enticement, sales and promotions are prominent at this time, giving retailers a “second chance” to make their efforts worth it. A sample of some of the post-season strategies include:
Holiday and Post-Holiday Sales
• Aeropostale offered 50% off several days before Christmas and $5 graphic tees the day after Christmas.
• Circuit City’s Red Dot Markdown sale offers up to 60% on computers and accessories- saving up to $200 in laptops. Their Internet-only deal has all iPods on sale.
• Nordstrom shoppers can earn twice the rewards points using their Nordstrom credit card during December 26-28
• Old Navy’s “Wish it, Win it” Instant Giveaway offers shoppers a chance to win everything on a wish list they create, plus a $10,000 grand prize drawing.
• Bloomingdales is taking 50% off, including sale & value items until January 1.
• Williams-Sonoma will unveil a new line of natural cleaning products called “Pure and Green.”
• Victoria Secret shoppers who buy one bra can get a second half off for the two days after Christmas. The popular lingerie company recently debuted a limited-edition fragrance, “More Pink Please.”
• LL Bean offers a $10 gift card with a $50 purchase
• Best Buy’s “Very Merry Two-Day Sale” offers free items with select purchases, like a free starter kit with the purchase of a select camcorder.
• Target is offering 10% off to shoppers who open up a REDcard credit account.