I don’t think anyone needed the official government pronouncement that we have been in a recession since last December. As DMNews has reported, consumers are abandoning credit and using cash, debit and other alternatives, such as layaway, to pay for purchases. And, while there was a slight increase in retail sales over the Thanksgiving weekend, the result may only be a blip in a tough season for retailers.
But it wasn’t for lack of trying. In addition to the usual hype over Black Friday, the push and expectations for Cyber Monday were on the rise this year. And, some ambitious marketers made a pitch for Mobile Tuesday, hoping to extend the weekend shopping drive with coupons delivered on cell phones.
ShopperTrak, a provider of retail information, reported that combined Black Friday/Black Saturday sales increased 1.9% over last year. Consumers appeared open to buying, lured by deep discounts retailers were forced to offer to get them in the door. But, in the final analysis, according to some analysts, the sales results may have been undercut by those very discounts. And more notably, customers may be holding out for even further price cuts. But how much lower can retailers go?
As Dianna Dilworth reports in this week’s Optimized section, many retailers are boosting their digital efforts to engage customers this holiday season (see story, pg. 10). And, as ComScore reports, online sales did do better, jumping 15% on Cyber Monday. But what about January and beyond?
If we are truly in this for some time to come, marketers will increasingly need to develop more long-term strategies not only to attract new customers but retain the ones they have. Loyalty programs and other incentives should be a primary emphasis, as well as innovative outreach to target customers in all media. Marketers should start laying a strategic groundwork now, before the holiday season is over.
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