Before The 11th Hour, Stores Look To Boost Sales

Macys-Believe-day-BRetailers are hoping to give mid-December sales a Christmas goose, with such chains as Macy’s, Walmart, Kohl’s and Office Depot finding different ways to tempt shoppers into stores now -- not later.

Typically, sales at this point of the shopping cycle slip a bit: Organized consumers may already be done, and the hordes of last-minute shoppers still think they have plenty of time. The International Council of Shopping Centers reports that weekly retail sales slipped again in the most recent week, falling 0.7% in the week ended Dec. 8. And on a year-over-year basis, retail sales slowed to a 2.5% growth rate. 

“With two weeks left to shop before Christmas Day, consumers are likely to step up the pace of their shopping appreciably as procrastination is less and less an option,” it notes in its release.

Macy’s has declared Dec. 14 “National Believe Day,” and instead of the normal $1 donation it will give to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, it says it will double the gift on letters mailed in stores that day, as well as grant 60 wishes to sick kids. And that day, when its “Yes, Virginia” animated special airs, it will support the effort with a #MacysBelieve social media campaign to spread the word. When believers mail their letters to Santa, they can also take a photo with Virginia and Ollie, using an augmented reality app downloaded to their smartphones. It is also enlisting firefighters to recruit letter writers throughout select communities.

Walmart is also using its cause-related efforts to get attention, as it moves into its “12 Days of Giving” campaign, contributing $100,000 per day for 12 days straight. The charities are chosen by Walmart shoppers, and based on more than 21,000 nominations received via Facebook, then screened by Walmart associated around the country.

Office Depot, meanwhile, is going for speed and is offering a one-hour, in-store pickup for online orders -- and claims it is the first office supply store to do so. 

And Kohl’s is courting shoppers on fewer hassles, reminding them of its year-round “no questions asked” return policy, with or without receipt.

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