An important milestone for the 2012 retailing year occurred this week when the calendar page turned to September 16th, officially marking 100 days until Christmas. Judging from the amount of Black Friday, Christmas season, and holiday shopping announcements, marketing activities, and predictions that have occurred this week, 100 days seems to be the new unofficial official start of the busiest retail shopping season of the year.
Seemingly the U.S. retail industry is going to race straight from the big 2012 back-to-school shopping season results to the Christmas season and barely make a rolling stop at Halloween this year. Thanksgiving, of course, already lost its status as an independently significant holiday when it got absorbed by Black Friday a couple of years ago. From the retail industry's point of view, Thanksgiving is not much more than carb loading for the big event.
Here's a roundup of this week's Black Friday and Christmas holiday shopping season deals, temp jobs, and expert predictions, and general holiday shopping marketing maneuvers from the major U.S. retail chains that have already officially started their race for Christmas consuming cash.
Lowe's (LOW) has started putting Christmas merchandise on its shelves already, reportedly in an effort to beat Home Depot (HD). Some Neiman Marcus stores had Christmas trees displayed in August. Hobby Lobby beat them all by starting holiday merchandise sales in June.
Retail rivals have already started take swings at each other in the first efforts to position themselves favorable with Christmas gift-buying consumers. Wal-Mart (WMT) launched its holiday layaway program on the 100th day before Christmas. Toys 'R Us and Kmart (SHLD) announced their fee-free holiday layaway programs a couple of days after that.
Target (TGT) has vowed not to participate in deep discount pricing wars, no matter what the effect it will have on its monthly same store sales. Kohl's (KSS) has countered with a commitment to play the lowest-prices game, and play it well.
Apple, (AAPL), which really has no serious competition, has already released its iPhone5 and updated iPod in order to grab its share of holiday shopping budgets early. These are just two of the eight products that tech experts and analyst predict that Apple will release for your Christmas shopping pleasure.
Target and Kohl's are also the latest retail chains to announce their temporary seasonal jobs and hiring plans for the 2012 Christmas shopping season. Target will be hiring between 80,000 and 90,000 seasonal temps and Kohl's estimates its temporary holiday workers will number between 52,000 and 53,000.
That's a slightly smaller number of seasonal hires for Target, which employed about 92,000 temporary employees last Christmas, but it represents a 10% increase for Kohl's. But of course, Kohl's will have added 21 stores to the 2012 Store Openings list, which automatically increases its holiday staffing needs.
Macy's (M), jcpenney (JCP), Best Buy (BBY), and Toys 'R Us are among the retail chains that have also announced their holiday plans, and in some cases have already started their holiday hiring. Click here for the complete 2012 Retail Holiday Hiring Roundup >> And of course, what would a Christmas holiday shopping season be without holiday shopping season predictions? Retail industry experts, analysts, and investors love to make Christmas shopping predictions, love to read other shopping predictions, and seem to love the data overload of the entire holiday shopping season as much as consumers love the overstimulation of holiday season marketing madness. It's good, clean statistical fun for any retail enthusiast to review the 2011 holiday shopping season results and compare them to the 2012 Christmas shopping season predictions.
Ready or not, here comes the biggest 100-day retail race has begun. It's what the U.S. retail industry has been training for all year, and the signs indicate that the 2012 holiday shopping season is going to a marathon of relentless, one-upping, techno-topping, in-your-face retail marketing maneuvers madness like the U.S. Christmas shopping public has never seen before. Which is all very exciting for those who are into that sort of thing.