Monday, November 7, 2011

Making an Early Start to Christmas Shopping

Many radio stations have started playing Christmas songs so early in November in the past few years that one wonders if you may soon start hearing Christmas songs around Halloween time. That would be a bit weird, even creepy perhaps. But some early Christmas shoppers likely will have Christmas Carols silently playing in their heads even before then.

That's because shopping, much like Santa Claus, is a staple of Christmas. Santa never gives away any secrets to shopping for all those gifts, but he must certainly have a strategy to be so successful every Yuletide season. The early Christmas shopper is someone who is very organized and has a strategy to fulfill Christmas shopping before the season kicks into high gear.

The day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday, is the official retail start to a shopping season that is always hoped to be a robust one. The strategy of retailers is to advertise Christmas sales, specials, pre-Christmas markdowns, giveaways, special-hour sales and other promotions. The reason for the frenzy of retail advertising during Christmas season is because it is the single biggest shopping time of the year. Christmas shopping that begins the day after Thanksgiving accounts for well over half - with some estimates of up to 70% -- of annual revenue for stores.

Since retailers clearly have a strategy for Christmas shoppers seeking the perfect gift, then shoppers also need to implement their own strategy.

The savvy and early Christmas shopper is the one who may start silently singing Christmas Carols and songs very early to get in gear for shopping. Starting from as early as the beginning of October, the early Christmas shopper can begin to make lists of gifts and begin browsing to check the availability, variety, and most important, the price of items.

By browsing before the Christmas shopping season officially kicks off, the early Christmas shopper is more likely to get more bargains, better prices, and is also better able to do comparison shopping when the season officially kicks off. 

It's important to know that retailers won't offer true 'rock bottom' or 'close-out' sales, or the very lowest prices during Christmas sales. It's also important to remember that retailers are likely to offer earlier sales starting 
in early October to near mid-November.


Two significant pre-Christmas sales are for Columbus Day, which falls on Oct. 9, and Veterans Day, which will be on Nov. 11. The early Christmas shopper who already has gifts in mind can benefit from price markdowns during both sales periods. And of course the early Christmas shopper will also have the benefit of shopping during the season, therefore extending the thrill and joy of shopping.

If there is any disadvantage to being an early Christmas shopper and doing Christmas shopping very early, it is that some retailers, particularly makers and sellers of toys, wait until the official start of the season to introduce some new items into stores. The strategy in doing this is to build anticipation for a new toy that they hope will be very popular and to also target and capture a larger majority of shoppers. 

During every Christmas season there always is one, or maybe two toys, that are regarded as the 'must-have' toys for Christmas. And it has become a present-day phenomenon for shoppers to arrive from the wee hours in the morning to get a prime spot near the doors of some stores so that they can be among the first in those stores to make a mad dash for the 'hot' toy of the season.

But being doing or starting Christmas shopping early does not mean that it has to be over before the Christmas shopping season starts. What it means is that most or a significant part of your shopping will be done by the time Black Friday rolls around. 

What is most important to making an early start to your Christmas shopping is to get the best deal and to do so with as little hassle as possible, by avoiding a crowded store for example. Both of those will be accomplished for those who are organized and motivated to get into the spirit of Christmas before the season really begins.