According to economists the recession is over but local and big box retailers may disagree as the shopping climate remains cool, prompting bigger and earlier holiday sales meant to draw those reluctant consumers into tackling those gift lists now instead of later.
While Black Friday is still the most highly-anticipated — for both consumers and retailers — shopping day of the year, the sluggish economy has taken its toll, necessitating in retailers thinking outside of the box to lure shoppers.
Bordona’s Home Furnishings, a locally-owned home furnishings retailer, has had to reevaluate its traditional promotional campaign to one that is more immediate and aggressive due to the evolving economic climate and the consumers’ reluctance to part with their hard-earned cash.
“We’ve learned that in order to be successful in this business climate we have to have promotions running all the time,” Bordona’s Manager, Ron Bordona said. “You need to jump on things early.”
For example, much like Target, Best Buy and Wal-Mart, Bordona’s is putting clearance prices on their 2009 inventory a week and a month earlier than in previous years.
“We’re going to be running our January clearance in November,” Bordona said. “This isn’t a normal year. Consumers don’t have the extra income to spend and what they do plan to spend we have to fight for.”
To that end, Bordona stated they’re not only slashing prices to the bone, they’re boosting their customer service to give the consumer the best shopping experience possible, in the hopes of gaining customer loyalty.
“This is an event-driven economy,” Bordona said. “And you have to promote, promote, promote.”
On the flipside, it’s an opportune time to buy for the consumer, Bordona said.
“There are some great deals out there and with the rebates offered by PG&E and the lower prices offered by the manufacturers, it makes it a good time to buy,” he said.
The local Sears is also offering early sales in the hopes of drawing the consumers’ eye and it seems to be working.
Sears Manager Curt Jackson said, “We have stuff going on every weekend. We’re trying to give good prices early in the season and we are seeing people doing their Christmas shopping already.”
One of the hot ticket items for the Sears outlet seems to be the Craftsman Hammerhead auto hammer, said Jackson.
For Bordona’s, replacement items such as refrigerators, washing machines and living room sets seem to be popular choices.
Another local store looking to price to the market climate is I Love Paris, a popular gift store with a French flair.
According to co-owner Eleanore Colombo, each year they choose an item to mark down for the holiday push. This year, purses are 20 percent off.
“We try to pick something that people love and we’ve seen that it helps to have the early sales,” Colombo said. “It gets people in the store and thinking about shopping.”
But Colombo attributes their loyal customer base for smoothing the bumpy road during these tough times.
“It’s really nice,” Colombo shared. “Our customers have helped us get through this recession and we’re very thankful.”