Retailers Prepare To Fight Holiday Shoppers And Each Other To Not Offer Discounts

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Retailers really, really want to wean American shoppers off our recession-era addiction to discounts. Will it be possible for them to resist the temptation to slap “40% off” signs everywhere to attract customers? Retail forecasts for this holiday season show that retailers want to avoid selling products at a discount, while consumers plan to make their shopping decisions according to price.

Reuters combined market research, consumer polls, and retailers’ own predictions to forecast how this shopping season will go down. Here’s the problem: 87% shoppers polled by PricewaterhouseCoopers said that they plan to use prices when making their shopping decisions. The problem is that retailers are determined to do the opposite, keeping prices high instead of resorting to sales to draw customers in.

In fact, some analysts attribute Christmas creep to the anti-sale impulse: stores put out decorations for the various fall and winter holidays earlier and earlier every year, maybe hoping for additional sales before everyone else starts discounting. Of course, this escalates, and we end up with Christmas decorations for sale on Labor Day.

Nordstrom has actually quantified their plans to offer fewer sales and made those plans public: the high-end department store wants to offer sales on 20% fewer days this coming year than last year, and 25% fewer the following year.

Other retailers have their own strategies for keeping “SALE!” signs out of the windows: offering on-trend products in better quality is one goal, and better inventory management could mean being stuck with fewer items that need to be marked down before customers will buy them.

Will it work? The problem is that it only takes one retailer to offer a sale before its competitors are forced to do the same to stay competitive. That would be great news for consumers, but retailers would be considerably less thrilled.

Holiday shopping season forecast: consumers fight for deals [Reuters]

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