On Tuesday, the National Retail Federation announced the launch of its "New Holiday Traditions" campaign, a consumer education effort meant to encourage consumers to shop safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NRF found in its annual consumer survey that 43% of shoppers are waiting until November to do their holiday shopping, and 59% plan to shop more online this holiday season than last year.
The campaign encourages consumers to shop earlier this year and take safety precautions. The trade organization is distributing its campaign across digital, social media, radio and connected TV ads between October and mid-November in key U.S. markets.
Analysts and retailers alike have already recognized that this holiday season is going to be different than any other. While uncertainty around the season is strong, leading to low sales projections, one expectation is that the shopping season will be extended this year, with Amazon, Target and Walmart all dropping big sales days in October.
In its holiday shopping season forecast, consulting firm AlixPartners added October for the first time, because the traditional timeline for the holiday shopping season as generally defined by other organizations and companies is "meaningless" this year. Now, NRF is adding its voice to the chorus, in an effort to encourage consumers to shop earlier than usual to avoid the crowds the holiday season generally produces in November.
"Retailers are prepared for an early start to the shopping season, offering discounts earlier to ensure consumers can find the gifts they want, in stock at the price they want to pay, delivered at the time they want to receive them," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. In a nod to Black Friday, and the general surge of shoppers the event causes, Shay pushed specifically against consumers waiting "until Thanksgiving weekend to kick off your gift shopping."
In addition to this holiday season bringing unprecedented challenges for retailers, many are relying on holiday spending to sustain their businesses. The coronavirus has pushed dozens of retailers into bankruptcy already this year, and could hit a record by the end of the year, as even many relatively healthy businesses have begun to struggle. A recent PayPal-commissioned survey found that one in five retailers were "dependent" on holiday sales to carry on in the future.