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The top holiday sales event for smaller retailers is…

holiday shopping bag with gifts
Retailers are preparing for a busy holiday season.

A new calendar date is taking precedence in the holiday promotional plans of small-to-mid-sized retailers.

According to the new Capterra “2023 Retail Holiday Preparations Survey,” Labor Day is displacing Black Friday and Cyber Monday as the top-performing holiday sales event.

More than half (53%) of respondents said Labor Day sales brought in the most revenue for their company in 2022, compared to 44% who said Cyber Week (which includes Black Friday and Cyber Monday). For the past two years, Capterra data indicates roughly half of small-to-mid-sized retailers have adjusted to changing holiday shopping habits by ordering their holiday inventory early.

And almost half (49%) of survey respondents planned to launch 2023 holiday deals by September (the survey was conducted in August 2023), with 70% intending to roll out holiday promotions by Halloween. According to Capterra analysis, September has taken the place of November as the best-performing end-of-year sales month for many small-to-mid-sized retailers:

Holiday returns seen rising

Survey results indicate close to six in 10 (57%) respondents anticipate receiving more returns during the 2023 holiday season compared to the prior year period. Strategies respondents intend to employ include:

  • Offering more products as final-sale items (41%).
  • Shortening the time window for returns (26%)
  • Charging more for shipping (24%).

The role of generative AI

Overall, 44% of respondents will use generative AI to support their holiday retail strategies. Specific areas it will be used include:

  • Personalizing customer experience (43%).
  • Data analytics (39%).
  • Automating tasks (35%).
  • Designing products (33%).
  • Designing store/displays décor (31%).
  • Generating product descriptions (15%).

Other findings

  • 70% of respondents will offer more holiday deals than they did in 2022, while 28% will offer the same amount of deals and 2% will offer less.
  • 75% of respondents expect more holiday season profits than in 2022.
  • More than 75% of e-commerce respondents and 71% of those with physical stores expect a jump in holiday traffic.

[Read more: How retailers are adjusting peak season inventory planning]

Capterra conducted the “2023 Retail Holiday Preparations Survey” in August 2023 among 500 small-to-mid-sized retailer business leaders.

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