Stores fight for early shoppers this holiday season

Once Halloween is over, retailers look to capitalize on early holiday shoppers.

If you’re frustrated about Christmas decorations appearing in the middle of November, an SFU professor has bad news for you — the retailers don’t care.

Lindsay Meredith, SFU professor of marketing, argues that retailers would rather risk alienating a few shoppers than miss competing in the busiest shopping season of the year.

“Big ticket durables like iPads, iPhones, cars and appliances are bought in the November period or early December,” said Meredith in an interview with The Peak.

After conducting extensive research about the customer-retailer relationship, Meredith has attributed aggressive holiday marketing to three major reasons.

First, the advent of internet shopping has made markets more competitive than ever before. Meredith remarked, “Canadians compare prices on the internet [. . .] The consumer is much more knowledgeable about the price [of a product].” This information means that consumers are more discerning when buying high-ticket items, which forces retail stores to compete by making products available for longer.

The internet has also increased online shopping and lessened trips to established “bricks and mortar” stores by shoppers who prefer to use credit cards or Paypal.

Secondly, Canadian retailers have to compete with businesses south of the border in Bellingham and Whatcom County. “We tend to have mark-ups that are higher than they ought to be, sometimes,” Meredith noted of the Canadian market.

By decreasing prices and marketing early and aggressively, retailers expand their window of opportunity to capture eager shoppers.

Lastly, and most importantly, Meredith explained that, in the end, it’s a competition. Retailers are scrambling for any share of the market and thus push each other to reach out to customers as quickly as possible. This means that retailers are chasing each other in a frantic attempt to grab the attention of Vancouverites.

“So, it’s kind of like a race — who is going to get into the consumer pocket first,”  said Meredith. “If you wait too long, the other guy gets all the loot and there are still consumers out there, but they’ve bought everything and you’re out of luck.”