This year’s holiday shopping season figures to have similar issues to last year’s COVID scramble, but also promises to be even more profitable at the same time.
Compared to last year, U.S. general merchandise sales revenue was up 16% in the week ending Oct. 28, industry consumer tracker The NPD Group reports. The survey also shows that more than half of U.S. consumers are starting their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving Day, which is up slightly from last year.
Factors for getting a jump on shopping range from consumer concerns around merchandise availability due to delays in the supply chain or from a lack of employees at stores.
“Holiday shopping has been on an earlier start trajectory since Thanksgiving Day store openings in 2014, and then further accelerated by last year’s pandemic shift of Amazon’s Prime Days to October and panic over shipping delays,” NPD chief retail industry advisor Marshal Cohen stated in a news release. “Holiday 2021 continues the early shopping trend, with the added layer of inventory concerns motivating many shoppers to grab what they want when they see it, instead of waiting for better deals later in the season.”
As for concerns about a lack of staffing, retail employment in the U.S. rose by 35,000 in October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Gains occurred in food and beverage stores as well as general merchandise stores, and the nation’s unemployment rate edged down to 4.2%.
“With supply chain issues delaying seasonal shipments, we had to source alternative gift options months earlier than usual,” says Danica Coral, owner of Pink House Boutique at 7009 N. 58th Ave., Glendale. “In some cases, we increased orders with regular vendors which means we are holding inventory longer than usual, so we don’t run out of popular styles.”
Valerie Burner, owner of Bears & More, 7146 N. 58th Drive, also reports her strategy on buying early to expand their product mix, and Matt Borowski, owner of The Spicery in Our 1895 Home, 7141 N. 59th Ave., is sticking with the same business approach in Glendale from past pre-COVID years.
On average, the holiday season accounts for 20-30% of annual sales for downtown businesses, according to Lorraine Zomok with the Historic Downtown Glendale Merchants Association, and also owner of Memory Lane Trinkets and Treasures, 5836 W. Palmaire Ave.
In addition to other challenges this holiday season, downtown merchants this year won’t get their usual boost from Glendale Glitters. The city canceled the gathering this year — as it did last year out of precautions against big crowds — although the traditional holiday lights display, Murphy Park LiGHTS!, will continue. The lights go on the Friday before Thanksgiving, which falls on Nov. 19, and will be on every night from 5 to 10 p.m. through Jan. 9.
This past spring the Glendale City Council moved forward with a new approach to downtown entertainment, which moves away from large events and festivals. Instead of Glitters, the city is creating more frequent, smaller and targeted activities in Murphy Park and the downtown area throughout the year.
The new approach won’t continue a section previously lit with holiday lights in the Historic Catlin Court District in an area bounded by Myrtle, Palmaire and 59th avenues plus 57th Drive.
“This nearly three-decade tradition has been critical to the Catlin Court shops and restaurants,” Zomok said. “The business owners came together to create a new holiday initiative in the face of this potentially devastating loss. The inaugural Christmas in Catlin Court was created. The area merchants asked the city of Glendale for use of power adjacent to the trees and received the permission (a liability agreement was required to be signed). The businesses are funding the purchase of new lights and installing the lights on their own.”
Christmas in Catlin Court goes from 6 to 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays between Dec. 3-18. Themed weekend activities include visits with Santa Claus at the North Pole Village, a life-sized gingerbread house, arts and crafts, carolers and choirs, The Spicery’s Traditional Christmas Dinners (reservations required), artisan demonstrations and holiday characters roaming the area.
There will also be the annual Patriotic Community Tree, which honors those who serve in the military.
Visit catlincourt.com for more about the new event.
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