Holiday shopping retailBoth online and traditional retailers are gearing up for what is going to be a very important, shortened holiday shopping season.

With the country still moving slowly out of a recession, retailers are looking to make the most of the Christmas shopping season, which traditionally starts the day after Thanksgiving and runs through the day before Christmas.

Sales during this time make up about 30% of annual sales for many retailers. In some cases, they account for half of all annual sales.

This year, though, the season is shortened because of the late date for Thanksgiving on Nov. 28. This has taken 6 days off the usual holiday shopping season.

Many retailers have decided to open doors on the Thanksgiving holiday itself. Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s and Sears are all open on Thanksgiving, as is Best Buy and Toys R Us. Many will not open until Thanksgiving night, but it still will be a big change for many retailers.

This could potentially mean jobs are available for college students who are looking for temporary work over the holidays to help make ends meet. It also provides a lesson in retail business tactics for business administration students.

The United States Postal Service – which itself has gone through many financial difficulties because of mail service being rendered obsolete by technology – has entered into the holiday retail sales battle.  The Postal Service has signed a deal with to offer Sunday delivery starting Nov. 17 in the New York City and Los Angeles metropolitan areas, according to an article from Reuters.

Amazon already has announced plans to expand the service in 2014 to include Houston, Dallas and Phoenix.

Retailers also have started working on websites, testing them more, and have started offering sales early, according to Reuters. Many holiday promotions actually started on Nov. 1 this year.

Companies also have hired extra trucks and planes to make deliveries on the chance that bad weather could shut down retail outlets. They’ve paid for the extra delivery options because “you don’t have much time to react if there’s a snafu in your distribution system, if your website fails or if your rivals get very aggressive with discounting,” Michael Dart, a senior partner at consulting firm Kurt Salmon, told Reuters.

All the efforts are being made to maximize the holiday shopping season because of many gloomy forecasts from the experts. Morgan Stanley, for example, projects that sales will rise during the holiday shopping season by the smallest amount since 2008.

Retailers are hoping that despite the forecasts, the holiday season will have consumers bouncing back from a post-recession belt-tightening. Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren said his company is watching the numbers on a daily basis.

According to Reuters, Lundgren said, “This year it’s going to be like lightning – it’s going to go very fast. Every single day is going to matter.”

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