Holiday Shopping Starts Now, Are You Prepared?

SOURCE: by Ali Keech
Dec 08, 2022

On the heels of a slower start to the season, many retailers and brands are kicking off holiday shopping earlier.  Release and circulation of gift guides, holiday collections and seasonal prints, while pumpkins are still fresh, are calling for consumers to make their lists and check them twice.  News segments are highlighting the need for better budgeting, given inflation, so it’s clear marketers want consumers to be thinking about their holiday spending now.

As supply chain and inventory challenges impacted the 2021 Holiday shopping season, it’s evident that retailers and brands learned their lesson and acutely adjusted their Fall/Holiday ’22 delivery cadence and assortments to maximize this key selling time frame.  Knowing what to adjust, when to do it, and by how much, in this case, is key.  

This new holiday product calendar impacts all cross-functional partners of the fashion business including Design, Product Development, Production, Merchandising, Wholesale/Retail, Planning and Logistics teams.  These team members, and their decisions, ultimately support businessplans, so working together to protect their collective customer experience is essential.

From Design’s need to re-evaluate fabric weight and sample delivery schedule, to Merchandising’s need for a revised collection and go to market delivery schedule, these teams are the foundation of the fashion business.  Planning then reflows shipments, sales, and receipts.  Each team recalibrates their process to meet the earlier projected demand.  It doesn’t stop there – Warehouses on both sides need to be staffed appropriately to meet the high-volume shipping needs, as Amazon has upped shipping expectations across all industries.

After implementing this new calendar months ago to plan for Q4 2022, tactful brands and retailers meticulously reviewed productive price points, forecasted sales and inventory trends, seasonal best- and worst-sellers.  By doing this, they worked to present the best-of-the-best assortments to their customers.  They’re likely cutting additional ATS in hopes to fuel reorders,taking some risk to maximize unplanned business opportunities.

As temperatures drop, consumer budgets are increasingly split across essentials, jeopardizing gifting season success.  This coupled with price sensitivity and promotional activity, poses a threat to margin expectations.  While these factors are constantly at play in the industry, consumers are feeling them now more than in years past.  

Brands and retailers will be wise to monitor selling weekly, if not daily.  Constant review of by style/by door sales and inventory levels will reduce RTV and markdown liability while maximizing positive trend.  While location and product insight reviews are imperative, it is especially important to ensure seasonal receipts and product go-live are timely.  

Leveraging these insights quickly will require brand/retailer partners to maintain an open line of communication.  With only 6 weeks left in the calendar year, plus Black Friday and Cyber Monday looming, brands and retailers will be well served to stay nimble.