Aug 14, 2023 - Economy

Forget Black Friday: The holiday shopping season starts now

Illustration of a Christmas tree with a clock in the star on top.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Be prepared to find Christmas decor near the school supplies this year: The holiday shopping season is creeping earlier and earlier.

Why it matters: The traditional holiday shopping season ended with COVID, which pushed more deals online and caused retailers to spread out demand.

  • Now, inflation is part of the reason for the earlier start to help consumers stretch out purchases.

Driving the news: Lowe's announced Monday that it's starting to sell Christmas-themed items like wreaths, inflatables and trees online, which is earlier than in past years, Bill Boltz, the company's executive vice president of merchandising, told Axios.

  • "We're trying to get a jump-start on the holiday season," Boltz said, noting that an increase in search traffic on Google and for holiday products drove the decision to launch early. "We'll continue to add assortment and product [online]."
  • The move comes days after Home Depot's holiday merchandise debuted online Thursday.
  • Both home-improvement stores will stock products in stores closer to Halloween.

Between the lines: Boltz offered another reason Lowe's is rolling out holiday decor early — the heat.

  • "So think about decorating for the holiday, buying for the holiday, maybe puts you in a cooler state of mind than what we're dealing with right now across a large part of the country," he said.

Amazon Prime sale and early holiday deals

More holiday announcements such as hot toy lists are expected in the coming weeks.

  • Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData, said Amazon's decision upends the traditional calendar of discounting and pushes retailers to start offering deals early.

Spreading out sales helps retailers attract shoppers, Mike Debnar, principal of retail and digital innovation at Medallia, told Axios.

  • Medallia's research found 60% of holiday shoppers believe inflation will make budgeting for gifts harder.
  • "Consumers will be more strategic with their spending to stretch their budget, which makes pricing and promotions from retailers of utmost importance," Debnar said.

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