Retailers suffer post-Christmas white-out


With Christmas Day on a Saturday, retailers were already facing a one-day weekend for after-Christmas sales. And then the weather turned bad.

“Holiday 2010 just went from a truly Merry Christmas for retailers to a lost weekend with retailers scrambling to recover lost sales,” said Marshal Cohen, Chief Industry Analyst, The NPD Group. “The loss of post-Christmas weekend is brutal. This weekend was shortened already…Saturday was Christmas and then Sunday was lost in the east and much of the Midwest to a snowstorm.  Now, keep in mind that the day after Christmas is generally a huge day. This year it was poised to be one of the top six days of retail. I don’t think that is the case any longer,” Cohen lamented.

Can retailers recover?  “Sure, but it will take two to three weeks longer. Retailers have lost all that momentum they gained,” Cohen said. He now expects that retailers will be looking to continue the promotions and sales further into the week and the subsequent weeks. “We have to keep in mind that next weekend is New Years and that will also distract consumers from shopping,” the NPD analyst noted.

“All-in-all retailers will lose about 0.5% of sales with the loss of this big post-Christmas day. And by the time they make it up the sales will fall out of the range of the ‘holiday numbers.’ Consumers will now have to wait longer to use those gift cards and make their returns. This is an important part this is an important part of the sales in that consumers tend to spend approximately an additional 16% above the face value of gift cards and returns,” Cohen said.

RBR-TVBR observation: Radio and television can come to the aid of those retailers with advertising campaigns to let consumers know about those extended “After Christmas Sales.” A strong holiday for retailers appears to have hit a bump, but once the snow is cleared away the shopping can ramp up again.