Holiday shopping goes to overtime
CAPITAL REGION Christmas is over but the holiday shopping season is not.
The week between Christmas and the New Year’s Day can account for about 15 percent of holiday sales, according to Rebecca Flach of the New York State Retail Council. This period is ripe with people taking advantage of sales, using gift cards or exchanging merchandise and picking up additional items.
Traditionally, retailers will mark items down by as much as 50 percent or even 70 percent, Flach said. Timely items like holiday merchandise are often included in the list of deeply discounted items. Because it appears that the shopping season wasn’t as robust as expected, she said it’s possible discounts will be even higher than usual at retailers hoping to move more product.
Discounts are also likely on cold-weather clothing, as shops begin to transition to their spring lines of attire.
“We probably have about half the store half off,” said Michael Messinger, owner of the Christmas Gift Shop in Wilton,
Their sales are wide-ranging, with some shoppers looking toward next Christmas and others looking for items that might be perfect for late Christmas parties.
“I have some people trying to get a gift for someone they may have forgotten,” Messinger said.
The continuation of the shopping season doesn’t provide much of a break for the Christmas Gift Shop, which was open for 14 hours on the day before Christmas and a half-day on Christmas day.
A lot of gift cards are being used now, according to Flach.
“They’re hugely popular,” she said.
Retailers are hoping people with gift cards will spend more than the face value of the card.
People will also be returning a lot of gifts, even though Flach noted that about 60 percent of people don’t return anything and are satisfied with their presents. Retailers are still hoping people returning gifts will walk out with something other than a refund. Just getting them into the store again is half the battle.
When people are returning gifts, it is commonly clothes, which are often given in the wrong size or color.
It’s hard to predict what this shopping period will be like. Flach said past trends rarely can be used as a future indicator.
“We’ll just have to wait and see,” she said, noting bad weather could keep people from shopping. “If they can’t drive, that will curtail their shopping behavior.”
But people can always shop from home on the Internet, and Flach said they had already started to do so on Christmas. By the end of the day, she said, people were already gravitating to the Internet in search of deals.
The Retail Council is now in the process of surveying its members to assess the holiday shopping season.