It’s Time to (Santa) Suit Up…Already

Retailers are offering early holiday deals ahead of a season of economic uncertainty

It’s Time to (Santa) Suit Up…Already

4 Min Read

If it seems like every year the holiday items hit the shelves earlier than the last, this year you’d be right. With the winds of economic uncertainty blowing through corporate offices, retailers are hoping to get ahead of the storm and bolster their Q4 results by offering proactive shoppers early deals on their holiday shopping.

Target, Walmart, and Amazon are offering holiday discounts ahead of their usual schedule

The kids are back in school and retailers have quickly switched their focus to the holiday season. This year notably marks an even earlier start to holiday advertising as brands try to get ahead of the economic downturn. Big-name retailers are launching their deals to capture the dollars of discerning shoppers before their competitors do. Walmart announced that they were releasing their Black Friday deals in October, including big-ticket items like televisions and tablets. Plus, they have extended their return policies for the holiday season, allowing shoppers to return through January 2023 to further facilitate this year’s emerging shopping patterns.

Target also is offering early deals. Their annual “Deal Days” event will begin on October 6th, which is 4 days earlier than they launched last year. Not one to be outdone by its competitors, Amazon recently announced a sales event similar to their hallmark summer Prime Day event to hopefully align with customer behaviors and capture essential Q4 dollars.

Supply chains, economic shifts, and consumer spending habits are influencing this year’s promotional schedule

There are multiple reasons that retailers are skipping fall and setting their sights on the lucrative holiday season at a breakneck pace. First, due to the economic uncertainty facing shoppers, many have expressed their intentions to shop early and to scour for good deals. Retailers are also aware that many people are taking advantage of loosening pandemic restrictions to return to travel, spending money that may have otherwise been spent on holiday gifting. They are hoping to hook shoppers who may be looking to buy tickets and accommodations rather than stocking stuffers.

The brick-and-mortars like Walmart and Target have overflowing storerooms. Many stores stopped accepting returns and exchanges, opting instead to refund customers while allowing them to keep the items. The cost of paying staff to restock outweighed the cost of the items themselves. Now, they are hoping to clear their shelves with early deals. “This year you’ll see deeper discounts,” said Katie Thomas, lead at the Kearney Consumer Institute, the think tank at consulting firm Kearney. “Last year, companies reeled it in—because of supply chain issues, they could get away with discounting less.”

Despite this excess of product, many shoppers are operating from their holiday experience last year; 40% of surveyed US holiday shoppers said that their previous experience has made them consider shopping earlier this year. Value shoppers will be able to take advantage of the supply chain this year, helping their dollar stretch further and helping retailers clear their shelves.

Advertisers should start their Connected TV campaigns now to ride the momentum throughout key shopping windows

This shift in behavior has been carefully tracked as these “unprecedented times” continue to be….well, unprecedented. We looked at our own advertisers using the MNTN platform to launch Connected TV campaigns to see what insights we could glean from last year’s festivities. Last Q4, advertisers started their campaigns early to benefit from the big bumps during key shopping times. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top days for revenue and conversions all fell from Black Friday to mid-December around the shipping cutoff for many businesses.

Those advertisers that got a jump on the season profited. We saw that brands that put together comprehensive campaigns, including top-of-funnel prospecting campaigns and lower-funnel retargeting ones that reached people who had browsed the site but not yet purchased, saw elevated levels of success. Those that included these multiple campaign types drove a 221% higher return on ad spend than those who ran upper-funnel (prospecting) campaigns alone. This is yet another reason why advertisers can benefit from launching before the notable shopping days, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. People are starting to plan their holiday shopping lists and businesses can then capture interested parties for retargeting campaigns closer to the key shopping times.

We put together an analysis of both the boom of last year’s holiday season and the bust of the first few months of the pandemic to piece together our learnings for advertising in this upcoming uncertain time.

With the ebbs and flows of the economy, advertisers are taking action now to help bolster their Q4 sales and to give customers access to deals as they are searching for them. Smaller advertisers can take a cue from their larger counterparts and start thinking about their holiday strategy before we start swapping the jack-o-lanterns for paper turkeys.