Black Friday gets all the hype, but merchants are counting on procrastinators to make the Saturday before Christmas a huge shopping day too.
Called Super Saturday, the day is predicted to be the second-highest sales event of the year for brick-and-mortar retailers, according to ShopperTrak. Last year, Super Saturday managed to trump Black Friday and snagged the No. 1 spot, with more than $9 billion sold.
“It’s an important part of both the holiday season and the total year,” said Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak. “There’s always a group of people who purposely wait, as that is their strategy. Others just procrastinate.”
Retailers eager to pry every last dollar from consumers in the last few days before Dec. 25 are pulling out all the stops.
Kohl’s is opening for 170 straight hours until 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve (that’s about 70 hours longer than last year’s round-the-clock shop-a-thon). Starting Saturday, Toys R Us said it was staying open until 2 a.m., and then opening for a 39-hour stretch until 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
“Customers can complete their holiday shopping whenever it’s convenient for them,” Joe Venezia, senior vice president of store operations for Toys R Us, said in a statement.
For retailers with physical stores, these last few days are crucial to winning shoppers who are more inclined to shop online than ever before.
As the clock counts down, more people will have to brave jammed parking lots and thick crowds to avoid shipping mishaps and ensure that gifts are tucked into stockings on time.
That’s especially apparent this year, when sales on Thanksgiving and Black Friday slumped slightly compared to 2014, while online sales for those two days shot up 18%, according to an Adobe report.
The holiday season is crucial to retailers, which can make up to 40% of their annual sales during that time. The National Retail Federation forecasts that sales during November and December will climb 3.7% to $630.5 billion, slightly below the 4.1% growth in the same period last year
Retailers will continue rolling out additional discounts in the next few days, analysts predict, especially those nervous after a recent string of sluggish months.
Retail sales rose 0.2% in November, after nudging up only 0.1% in October and dipping 0.1% in September, according to the Commerce Department.
About 90% of shoppers say they still have gifts, decorations, food or other holiday-related products left to buy, a survey from the National Retail Federation found this week. More than one-fifth said they were waiting for the best deals.
Britt Beemer, founder of America’s Research Group, said many shoppers are holding back because of a mix of thriftiness and a lack of excitement in the merchandise on offer.
According to his survey, 52% of consumers said there was nothing new in stores this season to tempt them. And about 27% said they planned to spend less than last year during the holidays.
“We have a situation where consumers have got dollars to spend, but ‘Will they spend it?’ is the big question,” Beemer said. “They have been holding back.”
That could be a big problem for retailers.
Already, some merchants have suffered from a frugal mind-set among shoppers, Beemer said. About two-thirds of Thanksgiving shoppers, for example, bought only early-bird specials and nothing else. Shoppers willing to wait for better deals could push some sales into next week, he said.
Retailers are also grappling with unseasonably balmy temperatures in some parts of the country that have squashed demand for coats, sweaters and boots.
Last month, Macy’s Chief Executive Terry Lundgren said in a call with analysts said “our lumps are clearly in the cold weather category.”
“You want to believe that it eventually is going to get cold,” he added.