Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Shopping Mood Two Weeks Before Christmas

Don’t look now, but we’ve made it halfway from Cyber Monday to Christmas. What’s going on in retail?

According to the calendar, we are in the traditional early December lull. Not much happens in the stores between Cyber Monday and the last two weekends before Christmas. There is a problem with the calendar this year, though. With Christmas Eve and Christmas falling on a weekend, next weekend is the last shopping weekend before Christmas. People who want to avoid the mad rush at the end of the shopping season should be getting their shopping done this weekend. If this is not happening, it is hardly a surprise.

I haven’t had a chance to see shopping districts first-hand this season, at least not to my usual extent. To fill in the gaps, I’ve asked friends, some who work in retail and some who have just been out shopping, to tell me what they’ve seen. Through yesterday everyone agreed it was is still the early December lull. The lull might not have been quite as deep this year as the last four, but it lasted longer than usual. Today you could see the change. Compared to yesterday, there was a distinct step up in store traffic and longer checkout lines, but still only half the level of a peak shopping day.

After a quiet Black Friday, online orders picked up some of the slack, but now, the balance of the shopping season rests on what people decide to buy next weekend and on their lunch-hour and after-work shopping excursions. If shoppers cast off the cautious mood of the season so far, there is still a chance that the shopping season could recover to the level of last year.