10.10 Sales Day Big Event or Sales Day Arms Race?

Remember back in the pre-pandemic days when consumers complained about retailers pumping the holiday season the day after Halloween?

Brace yourself: there are forces at play that seek to jump the gun even more. Per Bloomberg, a new sales holiday is in the offing: 10.10 Sales Day. Why that name? It’s basically a play on of Singles Day (11/11), the biggest shopping event on the planet (a phenomenon we’ve written about before on this blog). More urgently: why yet another sales event? And if you host a sales event, will customers come?

Let me state upfront that I get the rationale behind the new 10.10 Sales Day event. Back in June I encouraged retailers to move their Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales up to June or July as a hedge against a potentially bleak Holiday Season in Q4. As I said back then, consumers weren’t feeling maxed out yet … those who were unemployed had additional financial support from state and federal governments, and there was talk of another stimulus package.  In Q4 there could be different financial situations for consumers.

Here we are, a few months later, and Deborah Weinswig of Coresight Research is seeking to, “pull holiday shopping into October from closer to Christmas so retailers can cope with limits on both shipping capacity and available merchandise.” If shopping isn’t pulled forward, she warns, it might not happen at all.

According to Weinswig, more than two dozen national retailers have agreed to participate in 10.10 Sales Day, although no names have been released as of yet. The rewards app, Shopkick, is on board, and plans to launch a 10.10 site, so it’s pretty clear both Weinswig and the retailers mean to give it all they got.

It’s noteworthy that Coresight Research is encouraging retailers to move their holiday season up to October. The firm made headlines last year when it accurately predicted that 2019 would be the year of a retail apocalypse with up to 12,000 stores closing across the country. This year they anticipate anywhere from 20,000 to 25,000 stores to close permanently, so it’s no surprise that Weinswig is encouraging retailers to at least try to save their hides with an earlier holiday shopping season.

An arms race of holiday sales day

10.10 Sales Day (which if it isn’t obvious is scheduled for October 10th) will mark the official start of the holiday shopping season, like it or not. Amazon Prime Day will follow close on its heels on October 13 and 14. Less than a month later will be Singles’ Day, which Coresearch says will be far more global in scope, with “retailers offering Singles’ Day sales in the US, Europe, Southeast Asia, Russia and Brazil.”

If you wait to launch your holiday campaigns, or are pinning your hopes on Cyber Monday, you may be sorely disappointed with your sales. There are a lot of big guns with deep pockets aiming to get consumers to spend in October, and they may have crossed everyone off their lists by the time you launch your 2-for-1 or free shipping special.

And don’t count on riding the Black Friday wave of major retailers driving traffic to malls with door-busters. Analysts say retailers will begin rolling out their Black Friday sales before Halloween, and others, like Home Depot and American Eagle Outfitters intend to roll theirs out on November 8th. In all likelihood, Black Friday will have come and gone long before Thanksgiving.

Besides, retailers are not likely to invest a lot of resources into promoting doorbusters if the pandemic flairs back up and consumers stay away from stores.

Open questions

The 10.10 Sales Day holiday, which actually began in Singapore in 2018, raises some interesting questions, beginning with, what happens to Halloween?

In 2019, Americans spent $9 billion on Halloween decorations, candy and costumes, making it one of the top 5 most profitable holidays for retailers. It’s pretty clear that trick-or-treating is likely to be curtailed throughout the country, taking a bite (no pun intended) out of sales revenue. But will consumers still splurge on pumpkins and mums? Or will they have exhausted their Halloween budgets on Christmas shopping the week before?

In other words, will retailers cannibalize their Halloween sales in favor of holiday ones?

Another question: Will consumers “get” that they’re supposed to begin shopping in earnest on October 10th? Retailers are obviously gearing up for the event, but consumers need to as well. Have they even thought through who they want to buy for this year, especially now that COVID will prevent many from traveling to see family during the holidays? What happens if these retailers launch a great sales event and consumers don’t show up

And even if they do show up, are they likely to buy random tchotchkes in October when the All-New Xbox will arrive in stores on November 10, and the long-awaited PlayStation 5 arrives two days later? Both will sell for $499 and are arguably big ticket items even in flush times. One wonders if parents will opt to limit their spending to a new game console which they’re kids will play with all year round.

Finally, what happens if 10/10 Sales Day is a smashing success? Will it become the de facto start of the holiday season going forward? Or will it be a one-off strategy deployed in the worst year in recent memory?

Going forward

If I may, I’d like to return to the article I wrote for Retail Touchpoints and my recommendations to retailers. It’s too late to implement some of the strategies I proposed to increase sales by broadening your customer base and product line, but they’re long-term tactics that just may future proof your business.

For instance, I recommended forming partnerships with brands that sell adjacent categories to your product line, the way Tom Snyder does with Aesop.

I suggested that one way to get customers to spend more with you is to offer more products, which you can do quickly and easily by leveraging marketplaces like Mirakl or Logicbroker. These marketplaces can connect you to a wide variety of vendors whose products you can then sell on your site. You don’t need to warehouse or ship the inventory; you simply take the order and pass it on to the vendor who dropships it to your customer.

And if you’re in the Home & Bedding space, we laid out six omnichannel strategies to growing your business in our free eBook, which you can download here.

No doubt you have your hands and head full thinking about how to capitalize on the accelerated holiday season (especially if this is the first time you’re hearing about 10.10). But it’s important to keep in mind that 2020 has upended more than just the holiday season, and now is the time to look at fresh ideas to future-proof your own business.

Phillip Jackson

A multi-instrumentalist, Phillip is an avid collector of vintage guitars, keyboards and amplifiers and has a home studio located in West Palm Beach.