Nov. 11 - Retailers are steeling themselves for brutal competition with 2013 marking the shortest holiday shopping season in a decade. Jeanne Yurman reports.
Retailers are bracing for a holiday season smackdown. November and December are always a combative time as stores scrap to reap what is often a third to a half of the year's total sales. But this year Thanksgiving comes late, lopping off six days from the holiday shopping period-- the shortest in a decade. With all the buying crammed into fewer days, Jaime Katz of Morningstar says retailers have no room for error. SOUNDBITE: JAIME KATZ, EQUITY ANALYST, MORNINGSTAR (ENGLISH) SAYING "I think it's going to be a lot harder to recover. So if you have the wrong inventory in the store and you see an item is moving quickly replenishing and replacing it is going to be much more difficult." Fewer days and also fewer dollars are forecast to be spent this year. Research firm ShopperTrak expects sales to pick up a tepid 2.4 percent--down from prior years. To cope with this year's challenges retailers have launched holiday promotions early--especially online. They're doubling their efforts to make sure their websites can handle extra traffic in a shortened season. They're hiring extra trucks and planes if weather turns bad and keeps shoppers at home. And despite public resistance more and more chains are opening their doors for a first time on Thanksgiving Day the semi-official kickoff to the holiday shopping season. And many earlier than ever before. Kmart isn't even waiting for the Thanksgiving meal to be served. It has drawn ire across the country by trying to outdo its rivals with a 6 a.m. start time Thanksgiving Day. SOUNDBITE: JAIME KATZ, EQUITY ANALYST, MORNINGSTAR (ENGLISH) SAYING "That may or may not work depending on how consumers feel about leaving their families on holidays to go and stretch their dollars longer." Analysts say you may not need to wait 'til Turkey Day for the deals. Almost half of retailers started promotions by November first with roughly a quarter of all shoppers already getting to work on their lists.