(Bloomberg) -- With 2020 proving disastrous for retailers, a group is introducing a new shopping holiday for a much-needed boost -- or at least to help prevent things from getting worse.
It’s called 10.10, mirroring China’s Singles’ Day, which is held on Nov. 11, or 11/11, and is now the world’s biggest shopping event. More than two dozen major retailers have signed on, says Deborah Weinswig, a retail consultant who masterminded the new event. The rewards app Shopkick Inc. is a partner in the effort and is launching a 10.10 website.
Companies have yet to disclose their participation. Retailers carefully plan sales events, where the element of surprise can be key in drumming up shoppers’ interest.
The aim is to pull holiday shopping into October from closer to Christmas so retailers can cope with limits on both shipping capacity and available merchandise. Unprecedented demand during the pandemic has constrained shipping, while product selection is low because the outbreak and subsequent lockdown disrupted holiday planning this spring.
“If we don’t pull it forward, then it won’t happen,” Weinswig said in an interview, referring to much of the spending on holiday goods. Disruption at the end of the year, meanwhile, could exacerbate the industry’s already bleak outlook. She noted that big discounts are unlikely this year because there hasn’t been a glut of unwanted goods in the market.
Retailers that have erred on the side of keeping inventory stockpiles light this year are even scrambling to buy merchandise from bankrupt peers. That’s “because there’s just literally so little in the pipeline,” said Weinswig, a former Wall Street retail analyst who’s chief executive officer and founder of consulting firm CoreSight Research.
Most holiday shopping takes place in the weeks running up to Christmas, with many of the busiest days traditionally coming right before Christmas Day. Weinswig said she hopes the event will let shoppers know that in 2020, they can’t necessarily rely on previous habits.
Shipping times in December are a particular concern. “There is no capacity,” she said. “We’re seeing people who have never shopped online shop online.”
Individual retailers are also taking steps to make sure they can supply and deliver merchandise, while also discouraging crowds from accumulating at stores on the busiest shopping days.
Home Depot Inc. earlier said it’s rolling out Black Friday specials on Nov. 8, instead of the day after Thanksgiving. American Eagle Outfitters Inc. is also seeking to move holiday shopping earlier. Neither company has mentioned the 10.10 shopping event.
A new October shopping holiday makes sense, said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail. If shopping is compressed into November and December, retailers will “really struggle to manage that demand, especially from an online perspective,” he said.
Earlier purchases could give retailers a better read on what customers are looking for, Weinswig said, while a U.S. equivalent of Singles’ Day, which started in the 1990s and generated $38 billion in sales last year, is long overdue. “I’ve been on stage begging CEOs to do their own shopping holiday” for years, she said. She added she expects the season to be profitable for companies, in spite of all of 2020’s upheaval.
There’s precedent for manufactured shopping holidays being a success, Saunders said, with the obvious example being Amazon’s Prime Day, which is also expected to be held in October this year. “If [retailers] can create these occasions and put momentum behind them, it can actually make quite a big difference,” he said.
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