As the Holiday shopping calendar moves into prime time, it seems only appropriate to provide a preview of what’s in store for the next three months as we count down to that most sacred, most important event in retailing: the day after Christmas sale. Not that we haven’t already seen enough evidence of holiday promotional activity. There have been 42 known sightings of Black Friday sales ranging from Target running one on a cold winter Tuesday to the Christmas in July event orchestrated by Amazon that sucked the life out of retail sales for a day or three.
The Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall in New York have had their heels on for weeks already, with the first ads for their run breaking amidst the back-to-school season. And workers in China, India and elsewhere in the sourcing (formerly third) world have been making the stuff that will turn up under Christmas Trees since Arbor Day (by the way, that’s an April holiday when individuals are encouraged to plant trees). Against this backdrop, let’s look at how the next 90 or so days will go down…with down being the operative word.
OCTOBER 1: Macy’s, hoping to get a jump on the holiday shopping season, announces its first One Day Sale. It will run through the fourth of October.
OCTOBER 2: Target breaks its first holiday TV commercial, an upbeat, lively, feel-good spot promoting everything from pine-scented Tide to Christmas towels with a singing Alvin and the Chipmunks controlled through an app. Shoppers immediately head to their nearest Kohl’s, believing it is an ad for that store, since Target commercials never mention the store by name.
OCTOBER 3: Kohl’s itself begins its Christmas shopping promotional cycle with a new slogan – its 18th in the past four years: “Put Kohl’s, Not Coal in Your Christmas Stocking This Year.” Millennials ask, “What’s coal?”
OCTOBER 10: Keurig debuts its Kold single-serve cold beverage-making machine. Retailers are counting on it to be a big driver of housewares sales for the season.
OCTOBER 11: Retailers mark down their Kold machines by 15% after sales immediately sputter, reliving their experience with Keurig’s single-serve Vue machine a year ago.
OCTOBER 13: Jet.com sends out a press release announcing that it is still in business and that going head-to-head against Amazon was not the stupidest thing to do, ever.
OCTOBER 15: Walmart gets into the holiday spirit with its initial Made in America promotion, highlighting cookware, bed linens, curtains, towels and room-sized rugs. Shoppers flock to their stores in record numbers…to buy cheaper Not Made in America cookware, bed linens, curtains, towels and room-sized rugs.
OCTOBER 18: Sodastream, feeling the competitive pressure from Keurig’s Kold machine, announces new flavors: tutti frutti, arachnophobia and New England clam chowder.
OCTOBER 21: RH—the retailer formerly known as Restoration Hardware but that everybody in the business still calls Resto—announces that it will now simplify its name to just R.
OCTOBER 23: Bed Bath & Beyond takes its famous coupon to the next level, offering free 20% Off tattoos to all customers. Demand is strong.
OCTOBER 25: Amazon surprises the retail world with a Christmas in October one-day sale, offering dust ruffles, fingertip towels, soup spoons and Kold machines at significant discounts. All but the last sell well.
OCTOBER 28: JCPenney announces that Mike Ullman will return as CEO for the 18th time following a disappointing start to its holiday business. Ullman immediately announces that this marks a return to the old JCPenney days, and later that day the retailer issues 98%-Off Coupons at all stores.
OCTOBER 31: Macy’s, having not run a sale in weeks, breaks its first Super Saturday event. It starts on the previous Thursday and runs through the following Tuesday.
NOVEMBER 2: Every retailer in America announces a First Monday sale.
NOVEMBER 5: Kohl’s unveils another new slogan: “Baby, it’s Kohl’s Inside.” Millennials ask who’s Frank Loesser?
NOVEMBER 8: Exactly one year before the next presidential election, the new Donald Trump Home Collection is introduced, debuting in Iowa and New Hampshire. Supremely confident of his prospects, the Donald offers discounts directly tied in to his poll ratings, breaking it at 24% off.
NOVEMBER 9: Trump Home now discounted at 22% off.
NOVEMBER 11: Bob’s Discount Furniture, the heavily promotional Northeast furniture retailer known for its outrageous prices and sales, ups the ante, putting Bob himself on sale for $399.99.
NOVEMBER 14: In a shocker, Target reopens its shuttered Canadian stores, announcing it will keep them in business for the holiday season as a test.
Target president Brian Cornell hailed as a business genius for his decisive, unconventional thinking.
NOVEMBER 15: Target closes its Canadian stores. Target president Brian Cornell hailed as a business genius for his decisive, unconventional thinking.
NOVEMBER 17: Trump Home now discounted at 18% off.
NOVEMBER 19: Macy’s promotional calendar spins out its newest event: a 12-hour sale. It begins at 8am and runs through midnight.
NOVEMBER 21: Overstock.com gets serious about holiday. It runs an 87-piece bed in a bag set for $39.99… plus a free toaster.
NOVEMBER 23: Trump Home now discounted to 14%.
NOVEMBER 25: Amazon shocks the retail world with a Christmas in November sale. The only thing that’s truly shocking is that Jeff Bezos thinks every day is Christmas at Amazon.
NOVEMBER 26-27: Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Stores put stuff on sale. Like, what else is new?
NOVEMBER 28: Trump Home discount now 11%.
NOVEMBER 30: Cyber Monday. Online stores put stuff on sale. Like, what else is new?
DECEMBER 1: Macy’s announces its unprecedented first One Day Sale of December. In an equally as unprecedented break with tradition, the sale runs only two days.
DECEMBER 3: Trump Home discount cut to 6%.
DECEMBER 5: Red Bull enters cold beverage dispenser business with its Single Gulp machine. Company says all you need is one gulp.
DECEMBER 7: R, the retailer formerly known as RH that was formerly known as Restoration Hardware—but that everyone still calls Resto—announces a further modernization of its name, saying it will now remove all signage from the exterior of its stores and catalogs. It will also institute an unlisted 800 number.
DECEMBER 9: Best Buy puts every TV, DVD player, mobile phone, computer, audio system and accessory on sale. Shoppers notice no difference from any other day at Best Buy.
DECEMBER 10: Trump Home discount now stands at 2%.
DECEMBER 12: Bed Bath & Beyond announces that its cashiers are now mind readers and customers only need to be thinking about 20%-off coupons to have them honored.
DECEMBER 15: Macy’s breaks its most audacious promotion ever: The One-Minute Sale. It will run this sale consecutively for 1,440 minutes.
DECEMBER 18: With one week to go before Christmas, Kohl’s unveils its newest advertising slogan: “We Kut Our Prices More Than Any Sane Retailer Ever Has.” Millennials run spell check.
DECEMBER 19: Macy’s sues Kohl’s for slogan infringement.
DECEMBER 20: Trump Home now available at full retail price.
DECEMBER 22: In a last ditch attempt to drive business, Target reopens twice-closed Canadian operation. Target CEO Brian Cornell admitted for observation at Mayo Clinic near corporate headquarters in Minneapolis.
DECEMBER 24: Suddenly remembering that Christmas is a retail promotional event, Sears and Kmart break their first TV commercials, offering anything in the store to anybody…for anything in their pockets. Nobody notices.
DECEMBER 25: Amazon announces first-ever July in Christmas sale. Online shoppers are so friggin’ confused they respond in record numbers because it is, after all, Amazon.
THE REAL PROMOTIONS START.