By Dr. Cynthia Silvia, DHA
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Public University
and Dr. Kevin Forehand
Associate Professor, Retail Management
To be successful this unique holiday season, retailers must devise creative strategies to survive the limitations caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Even with the best-laid plans, this holiday shopping season is sure to be unpredictable.
Most retailers rely on Black Friday sales to drive income during the fourth quarter. Retailers such as Walmart, Target and Amazon, to name a few, have already launched their Black Friday deals.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that “shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving,” is a high-risk activity.
Start a retail management degree at American Public University.
Major Retailers’ Strategies Include an Early Start to Black Friday
Walmart already jump-started its sales event by spreading its typical one-day Black Friday across three days beginning on November 4 in anticipation of COVID limitations affecting holiday shopping. Walmart executive vice president Scott McCall explained in a press statement that holiday shopping sales spread across multiple days will mean safer, more controlled shopping experiences for consumers and sales associates.
Target also kicked off its holiday shopping event early with new specials awaiting customers each week during November. Shoppers will see significant mark downs on electronics, TVs, headphones and Amazon devices.
Amazon was first out of the gate, when it launched its Holiday Dash shopping event right after its Prime Day, October 13 and 14, well ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In conjunction with its Holiday Dash event, Amazon launched its New Home Gift Guide with special deals and holiday gift ideas.
Amazon Prime Day produced $9.91 billion sales worldwide over the two-day period versus last year’s $6.93 billion in sales. According to eMarketer, Amazon Prime Users are expected to number more than 142 million customers versus last year’s 124 million customers.
Lowe’s is getting in on the action with a different strategy for 2020. Lowe’s is offering more on-line specials compared to in-store sales. Given the current pandemic and rising numbers of COVID-19 infections as we move into the colder months, Lowe’s is encouraging its customers to consider giving gifts for the home. The company is also planning to have one-day and online only sales on items ranging from tools to small appliances.
Likewise, competitor The Home Depot is expanding its Black Friday holiday specials for nearly two months as compared to just one day in prior years. The company strategy is to direct customers to the Home Depot mobile app where promotions will be announced first. The plan is to take advantage of the current trend of online shopping.
As is true with many major retailers, The Home Depot saw digital sales double in the second quarter of 2020 and it intends to utilize this venue throughout the holiday season. The company would like the online sales momentum to carry over into the busy shopping season for items such as artificial Christmas trees and outdoor inflatable displays.
Engaging Consumers during the Holiday Season
Retailers know they must ensure their brand is highly visible and by engaging consumers early. They are working to capture customers’ attention and drive holiday sales by offering extended shopping periods, special deals, and marketing through various channels including online, in stores, and on social media.
With pandemic restrictions still in place and even being extended in some states, working from home becoming the new norm. So online shopping is expected to be bigger than ever this holiday season.
About the Authors
Dr. Cynthia Silvia, DHA, is a faculty member for the School of Business. She is also a member of the faculty at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. Dr. Silvia received a Master of Healthcare Administration and a Doctorate in Healthcare Administration from the University of Phoenix and a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Elementary Education from the University of Rhode Island.
She has been teaching at the university level, both online and on-campus, for the past five years. Additionally, Dr. Silvia has 38 years of retail management experience and has worked for F.W. Woolworth/Woolco, Bradlees, Ames, Sears, Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us, and CVS Pharmacy.
Dr. Kevin Forehand is an Associate Professor in the School of Business at American Public University. Kevin earned a Doctor of Business Administration degree from Northcentral University and an MBA from Thomas University. Dr. Forehand worked in retailing and sales management for more than 20 years in a variety of roles, including sales associate, support manager, assistant store manager, general manager, store manager, district manager, and Vice President of store operations.
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