Our perspective at VantagePoint

Early Christmas lights: the recession's impact on holiday marketing

target_logoAs I was walking through Target last week before Halloween, I was struck with disbelief—shelves were alreadystocked full of Christmas merchandise. Really? It wasn’t even November yet! I went there to try and find a happy medium of Halloween and Thanksgiving merchandise, but instead of finding jack o’-lanterns and turkeys, I saw lots of trees and lights. Now I realize that in order to adequately prepare the house (or my dorm room) for the upcoming holidays, I should plan ahead, but two months ahead? Were retailers selling Christmas merchandise this early last year?

This ordeal made me think: How is this helping retailers’ marketing efforts? Is there a correlation in time between the industry’s need to stock shelves and the consumer’s need to purchase?

I read up in the news and found several articles about why retailers are stocking shelves with holiday items sooner than usual. The biggest reason? The recession.

Earlier this month, the National Retail Federation reported that holiday spending is predicted to drop one percent this year. While that decrease may not sound like a lot, when you consider how substantially holiday spending boost retail sales, one percent becomes significant.

So, companies like Target are trying their best to keep consumer spending up while the economy is down—especially as the holiday season approaches. They are stocking shelves early with holiday items to give customers a head-start, and dropping prices up to 50 percent on “Top Holiday Toys” for this year. While these are all elements of the common marketing mix (product, placement, promotion and price) and are done all the time, at Target, they were implemented sooner than usual—at least two weeks earlier than last year, according to a Reuters report.

In a press release about holiday specials, Target announced they’re cutting some toy prices up to 50%, as well as matching in-store prices to those of competitors to provide customers with a “budget friendly solution” to holiday shopping. They are also offering web-exclusive products for the holiday season, free holiday shipping with minimum purchases, as well as wish list and Gift Finder tools to aid in customers’ purchasing experiences. All these things are wise moves for Target, and it’s good that they’re continuing to push their marketing strategy amidst the recession.

So while I’ll have to search the end-of-the-aisle clearance shelf for any fall decorations or candy, at least I know I can get a head start and a good deal on my Christmas shopping—if I head over to Target now.


  • Kathie says:

    Thanks for the great article. Since you have clued me in, I am going to check the holiday aisles at Target.

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