Sunday, December 02, 2007
From the USA Today article: Lag between holidays changes retail strategy by Bruce Horovitz
It's a long stretch this year between the lighting of the first Hanukkah candle and the day Santa delivers the goods.
Don't think savvy retailers aren't acutely aware. "The majority of retailers don't focus on Hanukkah as an opportunity," says Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst at NPD Group. "That's a mistake."
When Hanukkah begins at sundown on Tuesday, it still will be three weeks until Christmas. In years like this, when there's a large a lag between the two religious celebrations, retailers must rethink how to stock, market and merchandise the season. As a result, some holiday shoppers might want to rethink their plans.
The lag varies because Hanukkah's date changes each year. The Jewish year is based on the movement of the moon, while the conventional, Gregorian calendar is based on the movement of the sun.
This year's potential retail impact:
• False reads. When Hanukkah falls so early, it can give retailers a false read on holiday spending, NPD's Cohen says. "Retailers may think it's an early shopping surge, but it's not. And you might see a lag at the other end of the month."
• Early pressures. An early Hanukkah puts pressure on retailers "to be on their game early," says Ken Nisch, chairman of JGA, a retail design firm. This is particularly true of big retailers in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — metropolitan areas with large Jewish populations.
• More business. When the gift-giving season is extended, "It can only benefit us," says Robert Padgett, spokesman for Brookstone. "People will be coming here even earlier in the season."
• Easier shipping. When the holidays are separated, it's easier for merchants to ship orders on time, says Nanette DiFalco, spokeswoman at FAO Schwarz.
• Easier staffing. When the two holidays are close, it can be extremely difficult to adequately staff stores, says Cynthia Cohen, president of Strategic Mindshare. But when they're far apart, holiday staffing is rarely a problem.
Two waves of holiday traffic are better than one, says FAO Schwarz's DiFalco. "It's a larger picture for us on all fronts."
• Separate sales. With the longer lag time, retailers are able to put Hanukkah-specific goods on sale (dreidels, candles, cards, candy) separate from Christmas goods (ornaments, decorations and candy canes), Nisch says.
• Higher spending. When the holidays fall together, many families of mixed religions will compress gift-giving into a shorter period. But when the holidays are spread apart, it can result in two separate celebrations — and more money spent on gifts, Strategic Mindshare's Cohen says.
• Religious gifts. The separation of the holidays typically results in more gifts that focus on the cultural and religious aspects of each holiday, Nisch says.