Will Christmas 2011 happen for retail?

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As long as I’ve been researching the beauty markets, there has been a big question mark over Christmas. It’s a nail-biting time for brands and retailers who always hope that consumers will do their shopping early, but always seem to leave it to the last minute.

The doom and gloom peddled by the media has become an essential part of the build up to Christmas. Bad weather, the economy, plummeting consumer confidence all conspire to give us the jitters. The bravest of retailers hold their nerve and will not be forced into discounting. The majority cannot afford to miss out on the most lucrative 3 weeks retailing of the year and launch discounting events to lure customers into store.

So is this Christmas going to be any worse than previous ones? For sure, the economic news could not be any worse and if the media is to be believed, most of us will be hunkering down to an “Austerity Christmas”. Retail discounting is more prevalent than ever –Debenhams is the first retailer to crack and offer 15% off beauty and perfumes in December{up to now there’s been an unwritten rule that even when the rest of the store was offering 25% discounts, beauty and perfume would never be discounted by more than 10%}.

My view, based on monitoring the Christmas premium beauty markets for the past 19 years, is that Christmas will happen. It will come late –Christmas Day is on a Sunday, giving consumers a full week to complete their shopping –and premium fragrance and make-up will perform well above the average for the rest of the retail trade.

I'm talking to some of the movers and shakers in premium beauty in January for the 2012 report. I'll be interested to see if I was right.