Super Saturday Expected to Still Be Super This Year

Shoppers always scramble to buy last-minute gifts the weekend before Christmas, and the Saturday before Christmas is therefore known as “Super Saturday” in retail circles. In our Super Saturday 2015 Preview, we note that, although the holiday shopping season has gotten off to a slow start, Super Saturday will help to significantly boost holiday retail. ShopperTrak predicts that this year’s Super Saturday will be the second-strongest shopping day of the year in terms of traffic and sales. Black Friday came in second behind Super Saturday in terms of sales in 2014, but this year, it is predicted to take back its crown as the strongest shopping day of the year, a record it held from 2005 through 2013.

For retailers, warmer-than-normal weather patterns, price transparency and a shift in spending toward services have combined to create a very deflationary atmosphere. That means retailers will be competitive on price and value options in the final stretch, with many offering extended store hours and in-store events, as well as online deals and free shipping. But that is good news for consumers, who will face even larger discounts and promotional deals this Super Saturday.

Although consumer spending over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend at brick-and-mortar retail locations fell by 10.4% year over year, to $20.4 billion, ShopperTrak is maintaining its forecast of a 2.4% increase in brick-and-mortar retail sales during the holiday season. This indicates that the firm expects to see higher in-store traffic during December, including on Super Saturday.

While in-store retail sales declined over the Black Friday weekend, sales figures signal that the holiday shopping season is growing longer and that retailers are moving away from blockbuster days. Shoppers today are taking advantage of an overflow of sales and promotions, and shopping when and how they want—not just on one or two huge sale days, but over weeks and months. Shoppers also appear to be less compelled by the value-based pricing associated with Black Friday and Super Saturday.

In addition, this year, many retailers cut back on Thanksgiving hours, rolled out discounts earlier and ran more of their bargains online, putting less pressure on consumers to rush out for discounts. The strategies contributed to a 26% increase in online sales over the Thanksgiving weekend, according to IBM. Bill Martin, ShopperTrak’s founder, recently summed up the trend, saying, “The success of the holiday season doesn’t hinge on the performance of a single day.”

According to Planalytics, the persistent warm temperature pattern is expected to continue, with demand remaining unfavorable for winter clothing. Throughout the week, stormy weather is expected to move from west to east, and there is a high chance that rain will slow travelers and last-minute shoppers.

This year, Super Saturday is December 19, which is the earliest date it will have fallen on since 2010. There are only five days between Super Saturday and Christmas, and Super Saturday will be one of the last chances shoppers can purchase holiday gifts before the big day. The added day is likely to benefit Super Saturday online shopping, as it normally takes 4–5 business days for free shipping.

Read our full Super Saturday report here. For more holiday retail updates, subscribe to daily emails from the Fung Business Intelligence Centre here!