It's almost funny the way negative retail holiday stories so predictably appear. Last year, they were three weeks earlier than the prior year with Mike Kraus's headline, "Lower Retail Sales Predicted This Holiday Season," on AllBusiness. Despite the fact they quote both the National Retail Federation (NRF) and the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) as saying it will be increasing.
So, to shield yourself from the usual doom & gloom, here is a look at the typical six stories garnering media coverage, month-by-month, which will give you a good idea about what your sales force – and your customers- will be facing:
1.During the second week in October, headlines will announce that it will be a tough holiday shopping season for retailers this year.
2. During the third week of November, headlines will announce that retailers are nervous about the holiday shopping season.
3. After the Black Friday weekend, headlines will announce that there were not enough shoppers in the stores and that Black Friday sales were disappointing, signaling trouble for the holiday season.
4. During the first week of December, headlines will announce that retailers are nervous while shoppers wait on the sidelines for more bargains to appear.
5. During the week before Christmas, headlines will announce that shoppers are finding tremendous bargains, naturally at retailers' and bottom lines' expense.
6. During the week after Christmas, headlines will announce that holiday sales have – once again – disappointed retailers.
While this annual merry-go-round of doom-and-gloom predictions may grab eyeballs using euphemisms like retailers receiving “coal for Christmas” or finding historical “worsts,” it doesn’t sell merchandise. Nor does it encourage optimism by retailers or their employees - the people responsible for making the season merry.
Instead, these stories perpetuate a “waiting for the next shoe to fall” mentality among consumers who hold back their wallets to wait for deeply discounted bargains and retailers who expect the worst and cut both labor and prices, thus limiting their profit potential during the critical holiday season.
These stories also neutralize all potential benefits of what should be your busiest season of the year.
Here’s the interesting kicker: in ten out of eleven years – expert predictions of a dire holiday season didn’t materialize when the final numbers were in.
The trouble is your crew, customers, and investors will all be affected by the fear.