Retailers' last-ditch effort to boost holiday sales

Slows sales to start the holiday shopping season are causing some stores to offer marathon, pre-Christmas shopping hours and deep discounts.

By Benzinga Dec 18, 2013 11:45AM

A woman in front of a sale sign (© Andrew Winning/Reuters)By Bruce Kennedy


What may be good news for last-minute Christmas shoppers can also be seen as a sign of alarm from some retailers, who appear to be concerned about both the shortened holiday shopping season this year and word that some consumers have been staying home during the recent bout of winter storms.


On Tuesday Toys R Us announced its stores will remain open, nationwide, for 87 consecutive hours – beginning at 6:00 a.m. Saturday, December 21, and continuing through 9:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve.


"With only eight shopping days remaining until Christmas, we are offering customers extended, uninterrupted time in stores," Troy Rice, the company's executive vice president, stores and services, said in a press statement, "providing them the opportunity to shop whenever is most convenient for them – whether early in the morning or late at night."


The Toys R Us marathon comes after last week's announcement by Kohl's Department Stores (KSS) that it will be keeping its doors open for more than 100 hours; from 6:00 p.m. Friday, December 20, through 6:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve.


The National Retail Federation is calling this year "a holiday season like no other," as its latest survey finds nearly half of consumers plan to do the remainder of their holiday shopping online – the highest percentage in the survey's 11-year history.


And it appears a large number of consumers have yet to wrap up their holiday shopping. 


According to the survey, just over 29 percent plan to complete their shopping by Wednesday, with another 14.2 percent hoping to be done by Friday -- and 10.1 percent saying they will wait until Christmas Eve.


"Last-minute shoppers don’t have quite the breathing room they did last year when there were four full weekends, but we shouldn't underestimate procrastinators," Pam Goodfellow, consumer insights director for Prosper Insights & Analytics, the group that conducted the NRF survey, noted in a press statement. "Last-minute shoppers are savvy bargain hunters who know just how to get everything they need to finish their gift lists."


Along with the marathon, pre-Christmas shopping hours, retailers are reportedly continuing their discounting trend this season – in an effort to lure in more consumers.


CNBC quotes a letter issued by Morgan Stanley analysts Kimberly Greenberger – that notes dramatic price-slashing at Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF), Express (EXPR) and Gap's (GPS) Banana Republic.


"This is the week retailers could lose confidence in sales projections and hit the 'panic button' by offering deeper-than-planned promos," she added.


Read more from Benzinga:

Dec 18, 2013 2:04PM

We are now going out of business and offering a "real" (not a phony sale like most stores)  75% off our merchandise. Even with 75% off our sales are just in line with last years. The economy is dead !


On the bright side I drove by dollar tree and it was packed - seems like a lot of kids and people are going to get dollar junk for Christmas this year !



Dec 18, 2013 1:45PM
The retailers have only themselves to blame.   They have conditioned the public that every sale is the best one yet.  If you wait a better deal is coming.  Black Friday, best sale of the year..forget's cyber Monday..etc..  People have been conditioned to wait and play a game of chicken with the retailers and it looks more and more like the retailers will be the ones to blink first this time...
Dec 18, 2013 12:04PM
This doesn't sound good.  Are there going to be that many people at 3am on Sunday morning shopping at Kohl's?  I'm sure there will be a few stragglers, but really, they couldn't just extend their hours by a few on either end - maybe stay open until midnight or something.

It seems that most indications are pointing to less-than-stellar holiday retail sales results.
Dec 19, 2013 3:27AM
Rodeo Drive, Oxford Street, Regent Street, Fifth Avenue, Rue du Faubourg  St Honore, Avenue Montaigne, Avenue Princess Grace, Ginza Line, PC Hooftstraat,..... Never mind, I forgot I was talking to beggars! You poor fools wouldn't have a clue about any of these places!
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