Based on earlier reports after the start of the pandemic, consumer attitudes and habits have changed. What does this portend for companies like Christmas Central, which receives 75% of its annual revenue from holiday sales? This online merchant that also sells through Amazon and Walmart began preparing for the 2020 holiday season in October 2019, more than a year early. And while it experienced a 75% spike in 2019 holiday sales, it still is forecasting an increase of 25% this holiday season.
Why the optimism?
Christmas Central is part of Gordon Companies, which also owns PoolCentral.com. Like swimming pool contractors, this company that sells outdoor furniture and a variety of outdoor recreational equipment and supplies has seen a huge increase in traffic. Sales increased more than 500% during the pandemic and was even up 300% in late June as some states began easing CVID-19 restrictions. Easter, the 4th of July and other spring and summer holidays led the rise. A spokesperson said their April and May sales equaled those of their normal holiday season.
Part of Christmas Central’s success is attributed to preparation. The firm analyzes what sold well the previous year and what they believe could be a good seller in the approaching season. They also make sure to place their orders with suppliers by March 1 to ensure they get product well in advance of the holidays. And to prepare for the crunch, they hire and train 150 seasonal employees for their fulfilment centers. The company presently has four fulfillment centers in the U.S. and plans to add two more shortly to meet anticipated demand.
Another thing Christmas Central is doing to keep pace with the expected demand is analyzing and adjusting its workflow pattern. COVID-19 and rules like social distancing have caused them to consider such things like ensuring that merchandise is being processed efficiently and smoothly through their staggered work shifts.
A spokesperson for Gordon Companies said they’ve changed their messaging since the pandemic. Instead of “blatantly pushing goods at people”, said Laura Gordon, their ads are more about community and how they’re helping others. She added that Christmas Central spent less on advertising since the pandemic but is reaping four times the return.
In preparing for the holidays, Gordon revealed that their ads will focus on making time spent at home special in recognition of the concerns many people may have about holiday travel or imposed travel restrictions. Their focus will be on brightening up the holidays with new holiday décor to make Christmas special.
Christmas Central also discovered that its recent partnership with Pinterest has greatly expanded its reach and interest. What’s been particularly appealing have been their blogs, ranging from how to keep the kids entertained while quarantined to other ways to use their outdoor patio furniture. The brand also advertises on Google, Facebook, Instagram and Bing.
Why is Christmas Central a good role model? Ecommerce and research company Digital Commerce 360 analyzes and rates more than 4,000 digital commerce businesses each year. Christmas Central ranked 910 in the firm’s 2020 list of top 1000 digital companies.
Merchants have a bit of a bonus this holiday season. There are 27 shopping days, two days more than 2019.