Sunday, November 01, 2020

‘Tis the season – again

It’s November 1, the first day of a new new month, and that can mean only one thing: Christmas shopping season has begun. Apparently. You have to feel a bit sorry for New Zealand retailers, because without a Thanksgiving to latch on to, what signal can they use to tell Kiwi shoppers it’s time to spend up large for Christmas? Today is probably only the “soft launch” of the holiday selling season: There’s so much more to come.

This morning I got two emails from companies I’ve ordered from in the past. They both promoted Christmas shopping, but the one at left was the top half of (and majority of) the email, while the one down below was at the bottom of their email (clearly they’re just warming up…). In the weeks ahead, such appeals will become much more insistent, of course, including more frequent. The thing is, since New Zealanders haven’t been able to travel overseas due to Covid-19, I bet they’ll spend more on Christmas than usual, so maybe aggressive marketing won't be as needed this year? One can hope. In any case, we’ll know for sure a couple months from now when sales figures come out.

There have been several different times that I’ve talked about Kiwi retailers having nothing to hitch the start of the Christmas sales period onto, and that they’ve tried a couple different things. For example, they’ve tried promoting Halloween, which most Kiwis still aren’t into as much as the retailers would like, but, anyway, it’s never going to be a good kick-off to Christmas sales. Seems to me it would be better to focus on Labour Weekend specials, as they do, anyway, because that’s also at the end of October.

The next tactic is that retailers are trying to promote “Black Friday” sales, even though there’s no Thanksgiving Thursday for it to follow. Even so, it’s arguably been more successful than trying to hitch onto Halloween, and for much the same reason it works in the USA: It’s closer to Christmas. Now, too, retailers that sell tech stuff are promoting “Cyber Monday”, bless their hearts.

Even though I'm cynical about all this, I do wish NZ retailers well. Small business is the engine room of the economy, and that includes lots of small retailers. Collectively, small businesses employ thousands of Kiwis, and those businesses are hurting because of Covid.The big retail chains also employ lots of Kiwis, of course, so people spending up for Christmas indirectly help us all. I do hope some of that spend-up deliberately goes to NZ-made products, though.

Today is “a” launch of the New Zealand holiday selling season. There’s so much more to come.

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