Holiday retail myths, and how to confront them
December 19, 2014

The holiday shopping season is well underway, but the results aren't particularly promising. After a lackluster Black Friday and tepid Cyber Monday, retailers are scrambling to find out the reasons why stores aren't doing well. However, high expectations may have played a role, since many stories were hyping up the 2014 holiday shopping season to do particularly well from the start. Some myths regarding the holidays have not helped matters much. Working against these falsehoods may help businesses better plan for the closing months of the year and better deal with a slower pace of shoppers.

More to necessities than gas
There are a lot of reasons to believe that shoppers are going to spend more in Dec. 2014. One of these is they spend less money on gasoline. Gas prices have fallen dramatically to less than $2.50 per gallon, with some places dropping below $2 for the first time since 2009, according to Gas Buddy.

However, that doesn't mean that money is going towards gifts. On the other hand, prices for the fuel humans need, as in food, have gone up significantly. Reuters reports the cost of beef and pork, along with other key food staples, have increased and will continue to increase. A combination of drought in several key locations including California along with disease among livestock has been the reason why. In addition, the cost of healthcare has gone up significantly as well.

Spreading things evenly
There is a long-held belief that Black Friday and subsequent named days of the week were monolithic in terms of when it was the best opportunity for customers to complete their shopping. However, as retail consulting firm Upstream Commerce reported, Amazon raised its prices on Cyber Monday, the day it's supposed to have great deals. Even then, the shopping season is officially four weeks long. There are plenty of days during that time for customers to shop and find the most savings. A savvy retailer would offer discounts not just on Black Friday, but on the Saturday before Dec. 25, which is often considered the actual busiest shopping day of the year.

Taking credit where it's due
When merchants accept credit card payments, they're at a greater advantage than those that carry cash, especially for large purchases. However, the outspoken belief that consumer needs trump fiscal prudence is a myth, with credit card network Discover reporting that less than half of all shoppers are expected to use credit cards at all during the holiday shopping season in 2014. That may mean that retailers shouldn't bank on big spenders this year.

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