The Lessons of Christmas 2010
Home Textiles Today Staff -- Home Textiles Today, 1/19/2011 5:22:46 AM
SO, DID YOU GET what you wanted from Santa last year? Whether you were naughty or nice, chances are you didn't find absolutely everything under your tree, menorah or kinara this time around.
But there were a couple of other things out there, yours for the taking, if you were paying attention. They are the lessons learned from the 2010 Christmas shopping season.
1. The Experts are Pretty Stupid. The so-called authorities maintained their near-perfect track record by once again missing the boat on their predictions for how business would be for holiday. Almost every one of them said there would be modest - at best - gains and that the season would get uglier and ever more desperate as the clock ticked down to Santa-time. Instead we ended up with one of the more robust shopping seasons anyone has seen in a long time, good not just by recent standards but by historical standards. The suits blew it again. And by the way, did you notice that MasterCard's Michael McNamara had replaced Marshall Cohen of NPD as the most overquoted-to-death expert out there?
2. Reports of the Death of the American Consumer Have Been Largely Exaggerated. We don't know about you, but we're getting pretty sick and tired of everyone saying the American shopper has changed and they will never start spending again. Remember when they said the same thing after 9/11? Remember the decade of unparalleled excess and exuberance that followed? The American consumer is just that: A consumer. If she knows she's not going to lose her job and she's adjusted her expectations on what both her house and her 401k are worth, she is going to buy stuff. And she did.
3. Inventory Management Works. Imagine that? One of the most basic principles of retailing - controlling your stock levels and adhering to the philosophy that the occasional stock outage is better than the frequent overstock - actually turns out to be true. We still think the consumer has caught on to this faster than most retailers, but no matter, the message is finally getting through.
4. Luxury Lives. Remember when everyone said Neiman's and Nordstrom's and all that crowd were endangered species? Turns out that was another colossal miscalculation, and the better goods segment of the marketplace is doing just fi ne. Yes, maybe some of the more obscene extravagances of the past decade have faded away, but the federal government has made sure that we won't be needing to run any benefi t lunches for the rich and famous anytime soon.
5. Sales Still Work But They Aren't the Only Thing That Does. We saw just as many sales, promotions and events as ever and they were effective, but lots of stores did very nicely with other strategies too, be it limited inventory, in-store activities or "gotta-have" items. In fact, the latter continues to be the secret weapon of smart stores. Whether it's Tickle-Me-Elmo or the latest Apple fruit-of-the-day, consumers have shown they will buy something they really want ... and they will pay just about whatever it takes. If only the home textiles industry could ever fi nd a sheet set that people just had to have.
6. Maybe This Online Thing is Going to Stick Around. OK, so this is not exactly a new lesson, but for those die-hards who keep thinking that the Internet is just going to be a small factor when it comes to consumer spending, this Christmas should fi nally have been the proof to see how wrong they really are. There will always be stores. They are as much a social experience as a functional activity. But get used to online as perhaps the single most important factor in the entire shopping process. That's maybe the single biggest lesson to be learned from Christmas 2010 That and, oh yeah, you can regift something monogrammed, can't you?
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