It may only be September, but retailers are already gearing up for a demand-fueled holiday shopping season.
Walmart unveiled its 2022 toy slate last week, marking the start of the holiday shopping season for the world’s largest retailer. In a press release, Walmart US’ senior vice president of electronics, toys and seasonal goods said the retailer welcomes the many people who shopped earlier this year in search of bargains.
The early release of Walmart’s toy list coincides with general forecasts for an earlier shopping season, as has been the case throughout the pandemic. Given current economic trends such as inflation, consumers will likely want to spread out their purchases over a longer period, explained GlobalData chief executive Neil Saunders. He added that purchasing earlier also mitigates the risk of order delays due to supply chain challenges.
Even with a longer shopping window, retailers have recently noted that they are ready to meet demand in key categories this season. This is partly due to higher than usual inventory levels across the board due to delayed Q1 and Q2 orders that only recently arrived, compounding existing orders for the season.
“When it comes to inventory, retailers are more confident this year,” Saunders said. “If anything, the problem is having too much inventory rather than too little – which is a big change from last year.”
Executives at Genesco, which owns Journeys, Johnston & Murphy and Schuh, said on a call with investors last week that an increase in inventory at Journeys due to late arrivals will help the company respond to the asks this holiday season.
“We have a head start on holiday inventory because we received late items last holiday, and we’ve rescheduled them so we’ll be ready when holiday sales begin,” said Mimi Vaughn, CEO. of Genesco, during a call with investors.
Foot Locker also noted how its inventory levels will be an important factor in meeting demand this fall and winter.
“As we look at our inventory, again, we feel really good about how fresh it is,” chief financial officer Andrew Page said. “We are very pleased with how it will meet consumer demand for back to school and during the holiday season.”
At Hibbett Sports, executives expect a strong holiday season that includes some consumers shopping earlier than usual to spread out the spending. Hibbett’s senior vice president of marketing and digital, William Quinn, said consumers “have no intention of cutting spending over the holidays” and very few have switched to other stores or brands.
Macy’s, which is expanding its shop-in-shop partnership with Toys “R” Us to all stores this fall, also said it is also positioned to meet consumer demand this shopping season.
The company, which expects the shopping season to begin in October, said it use inventory markdowns as needed. According to the retailer, more than half of its 2022 holiday products will be new, up 30 percentage points from 2019.
“We believe this will position us well to meet customer expectations,” Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette said on a call with investors.