As the U.S. presidential election comes to an end, consumers are turning their attention to the rapidly approaching holiday shopping season. Typically, Americans tend to start preparations well before the December rush, and even before the traditional Thanksgiving week start to the season. According to The NPD Group’s Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey, in 2015, “half of all holiday shoppers planned to start their shopping before Thanksgiving weekend, a 6 percent increase over 2014.” Retailers are also coming off of a successful 2015 season, with holiday retail sales up 3 percent and online and other non-store holiday sales growing 9 percent, according to the National Retail Foundation (NRF).
However, due to the recent election, consumers haven’t been getting into the holiday spirit quite as quickly. In past election cycles, some retailers have experienced a delay in the shopping rush until after the election. And while the NRF expects 2016 retail sales to grow 3.4 percent over 2015, the organization’s chief economist cited uncertainty around the presidential election as a potential hurdle.
Regardless, the election is over and holiday shopping will be picking up the pace. In order to account for the potential delay, retailers and marketers should start by looking at historical sales data during election season to understand how their sales velocity this year might be different from non-election years (i.e., establish a baseline understanding if an election year makes a meaningful difference on your business). Based on that insight, they should then use this post-election period to prepare in three major areas impacted significantly by timing shifts: