Ready, set, shop! Brick-and-mortar retailers are getting aggressive this gift-giving season in an attempt to draw consumers into their stores. When retailing giant Macy's announced that it was breaking with longtime tradition and opening its stores on Thanksgiving, it drew cries of anger from the public. However, other retail outlets soon made similar decisions. Walmart, Target and Toys "R" Us were among the retailers offering "Black Friday" deals on Thursday night last year.
What does this mean for bulk vending operators and other coin-op professionals with mall and big box store accounts? It could signal a change in shopping patterns in the weeks and days leading up to Christmas. With brick-and-mortar giant retailers battling back against online shopping, operators might have to rethink their own holiday strategies to maximize profits. That might include everything from adding and repositioning equipment to increasing service schedules.
Operators should keep in mind that foot traffic will be building during this shopping season. With a late Thanksgiving and shortest shopping season in years, consumers have indicated they are starting their holiday shopping sooner. According to a recent American Express survey, more than a quarter of those who responded said they have already started holiday shopping and will finish before Dec. 1, while an increasing number expect to finish a week before Christmas.
The National Retail Federation is predicting increased spending over last year. The NRF calculations have consumer spending moving up 3.9% over last year, which is higher than the 10-year average growth rate of 3.3%. "Our forecast is a realistic look at where we are right now in this economy -- balancing continued uncertainty in Washington and an economy that has been teetering on incremental growth for years," said NRF president and chief executive Matthew Shay. "Overall, retailers are optimistic for the 2013 holiday season, hoping political debates over government spending and the debt ceiling do not erase any economic progress we've already made," he said.
The data suggest that retailers are pushing back hard against online holiday sales, which have grown significantly over the past five years. Whether or not mall and big box store operators will benefit from these tactics remains to be seen.