Expect More, Longer Sales as the Holiday Shopping Season Kicks Off—in October

New 10.10 Shopping Festival and Amazon Prime Day seek to encourage early buying

macys new york shopping
Retailers are reimagining a crowd-free holiday shopping season. Bryan R. Smith — AFP via Getty Images
Headshot of Lisa Lacy

Will Saturday, Oct. 10 be the Black Friday of 2020? If a trio of retail partners have their way, it will be.

That’s because shopping rewards app Shopkick is teaming up with retail insights firm Coresight Research and ecommerce site Fashwire to launch what they’re calling the 10.10 Shopping Festival to “engage American consumers and revitalize retail,” according to a Shopkick spokesperson.

The intent behind this shopping holiday is to increase revenue for brands and retailers while rewarding consumers for shopping early, the spokesperson said, noting that “major retailers” have signed on in categories like footwear, apparel, electronics and home goods.

10.10 is, of course, reminiscent of the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, more commonly known as Singles Day, which takes place on Nov. 11 each year. Last year, Chinese ecommerce platform Alibaba rang up a cool $38.4 billion in just 24 hours on Singles Day, continuing its streak as the world’s biggest shopping day.

By way of comparison, the U.S. retail record is $9.4 billion, which was set on Cyber Monday 2019. The U.S. also saw its biggest Black Friday to date last year as consumers spent $7.4 billion.

“Say goodbye to one day of frenzied shopping”

Those single-day holiday shopping records are likely to stand for at least another year as retailers grapple with a pandemic-era holiday season. Multiple retailers have announced they will be closed on Thanksgiving this year, ending a four-year holiday sale creep that netted $4 billion last year.

And while retailers’ specific plans for Black Friday 2020 remain unclear, it’s a pretty safe bet they will make at least some accommodations to limit crowds. Walmart, for example, recently announced “an all-new Black Friday experience” in which it will spread Black Friday deals out throughout the season and offer more promotions online. America’s largest retailer noted that it wants to provide “a safe shopping experience” and highlighted ongoing initiatives such as overnight closures, requiring face masks for customers and employees, and “traffic management.”

Similarly, the Home Depot has said it is “reinventing Black Friday” with deals starting in early November that will last through December. The home improvement store also nodded to safety concerns in its statement about the sales: “Say goodbye to one day of frenzied shopping and enjoy Black Friday savings all season long without the stress and crowds.”

Now, with Amazon’s Prime Day reportedly kicking off on Oct. 13 and the promotional halo it generates for other retailers, it’s even more likely we’ll see holiday shopping start well before Halloween. Amazon will also reportedly begin offering its own Black Friday deals on Oct. 26. An Amazon spokesperson confirmed its holiday season and deals events will be earlier this year, but she did not comment on dates.

In a blog post, Gartner retail analyst Claire Tassin agreed that retailers will respond to the challenges of the 2020 holiday season by starting promotions in October. That includes additional retailers like Kohl’s, L Brands and Macy’s, which she said have “all referenced pulling forward promotions in recent earnings calls, with many, many more to follow.”

The early bird gets the holiday gift

So does that mean the timing is right for an even earlier holiday-themed Singles Day in America? Yes and no.

“If you’d asked me two years ago, I would have said no way Singles Day takes off in the U.S.,” Tassin said. “It’s too close to Thanksgiving and all these other promotions.”

Don't miss the Brandweek Sports Marketing Summit and Upfronts, a live virtual experience Nov. 16-19. Gain insights from leading sports figures on how they navigated a year of upsets and transformation and what's in store for the coming year. Register

@lisalacy lisa.lacy@adweek.com Lisa Lacy is a senior writer at Adweek, where she focuses on retail and the growing reach of Amazon.