PSA: Holiday Shopping 2009

empty_shelvesThis is a public service announcement. Really, it is.

The skinny: If you see something you like for holiday shopping, buy it. Don’t wait for dramatic last minute discounts. It’s not happening this year -at least not on popular merchandise categories like clothes and toys.

With the economy so lousy, retailers didn’t buy much this year (and don’t we all know it). By many accounts, they bought 30% to 40% less inventory over last year. Although consumer shopping is at its lowest levels since WW2 -down by 20%- available merchandise for holiday gift giving will fall short by 10% to 20%. There will be more money chasing product (even in this lousy economy) meaning holiday discounts aren’t as likely as last year’s experience would indicate. Shortfalls in popular merchandise categories will further buoy demand and prices in other product sectors as consumers make do with fall back choices.

Shop early, otherwise you may end up making do or making more gifts than you’d intended at the last minute when you have less time than ever. Don’t say I didn’t tell you.

Get New Posts by Email


  1. Dawn B says:

    Great photo! This is what a relative who is a day trader has been telling me – holiday merchandise has already shipped and the volume coming into the ports is very low. Still, it will be a surprise to actually see empty shelves in this land of plenty.

  2. Kathleen says:

    The National Retail Federation weighs in with more of the same news:

    With a soft economy, retailers have cut back on inventory to make sure drastic markdowns aren’t necessary. “In anticipation of weak demand, many retailers scaled back on inventory levels to prevent unplanned markdowns at the end of the season,” said NRF President and Chief Executive Tracy Mullin. “Once the most popular items are gone, retailers won’t have anywhere to get them. So if there was ever a holiday season to buy early, this is it.”

  3. Nick says:

    If shelves go empty retailers made a big mistake. Unless economics was just repealed, prices will rise before supply goes to zero reducing purchases. The advice is good, but not because shelves are going to be empty, price are going up.

  4. Eric H says:

    Nick, I assume you’re a drop-in from MR — did you just look at the picture or did you read the post? Because “prices are going up” is substantively what is said in the last two sentences of the second to last paragraph.

  5. Christina says:

    Economics 101… This is how supply & demand works rght? Everybody’s buying much less than they used to (or they realize with their busted up credit, they can’t buy anything with their plastic cards anymore) and so retailers can’t keep things molding on their shelves any longer.

    This definitely gives reason for people to shop early, get what they need before we all end up with just candy canes and a card for Christmas. Moreover, what this presents is a very interesting situation for us advertisers. Branding and building awareness for products and retail goods are hyper-time-sensitve and its all about hitting viewers at the right time, and also right before they go out to spend: Recency Theory 101.

    tip o’ the hat to Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.