Ho! Ho! Ho! Sears Holdings
But will Santa save Sears?
Market researchers at Nielsen Online think the retailer will be able to generate some positive buzz from this effort, but I see it as a desperation move to juice sales, which are falling more dramatically than expected.
Dreaming of a black Christmas
Christmas is the key sales season for retailers. They bank on its success, because Christmas sales can account for as much as 20% to 30% of a retailer's annual revenue. There's a reason the day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday, even if it is a marketing gimmick that's been missing the all-important "black" part lately.
So Sears might have good reason to try to get a head start on the competition -- especially this year. According to BigResearch, more than one-third of all shoppers say they're going to spend less on Christmas this year than they did in 2008.
Shop early, shop often
As part of its push, Sears is trying to coax unwilling buyers with its newly resurrected layaway program. The chain is offering especially generous deals on higher-priced items, such as home appliances, lawn and garden items, and tools -- the items most closely aligned with the crummy housing market. The first-quarter drop in comps was directly attributable to a decline in pushing those items out the door. Home-focused retailers have felt the same crunch: Home Depot
The risk for Sears, though, is that it may alienate customers who are tired of the already-extended holiday season. The chain's Christmas-in-July promotion offers customers nothing they don't already have available to them, should they want to buy. And given Sears' lackluster performance, it can't afford to anger customers. Comps have faced a frightening string of declines for years. Last quarter, comps were off by a staggering 7.4%.
The Christmas Tree Shops chain, owned by Bed Bath & Beyond
Shares of Sears Holdings have risen by 68% so far this year, better than those of Kohl's