Cashback News – Dec 24: Final holiday retail and ecommerce update – bags half-full or half-empty

Christmas presents 3On this Christmas Eve day, we take a final quick look at retail and ecommerce sales results prior to Boxing Day. Overall, retailers had softer in-store and stronger online sales in a challenging environment. The last-minute scramble is on and Amazon Prime and 1-800 Flowers took orders until midnight Dec 23 and still deliver pre-Christmas gifts.  warns consumers of holiday shipping delays due to volume by its shipping partners. The National Retail Federation said 73% of shoppers will wait until the last-minute to shop. Macy’s got in the Christmas spirit by giving away cashback gift cards in 600 stores. Internet Retailer reported retailers worked hard to reel in the last-minute shoppers with free shipping, guaranteed delivery and countdown clocks.

PWC reports that promotions drove traffic but may impact profitability in the holiday shopping season. Story obviously believes that brick and mortars are still viable. the New York City retailer operates like a magazine, changes like a gallery, and sells things like a store– an interesting concept. Custora estimated “Green Monday” US sales totaled more than $1 billion. Where are the last-minute bargains? Mary Epner of Mary Epner Retail Analysis said watch for apparel and handbag markdowns at Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors as well as watches from Timex and Fossil.

Last-Minute Online Shoppers Stretch Manual-Review Resources is the last day most retailers will guarantee online orders with next-day delivery to make it to their destinations before Christmas Day. Two intrepid merchants (Amazon Prime and 1-800 Flowers) are accepting next-day orders until midnight tonight in an effort to squeeze every last dollar of revenue out of the important holiday season. Antifraud technology provider Trustev (which was acquired earlier this month by credit bureau TransUnion) yesterday released two infographics showing which retailers are still accepting orders and until when.

Trustev 23rdWhile retailers have left many of the fulfillment headaches behind that caused widespread late deliveries several years ago, offering next-day deliveries so late in the season comes at a cost, especially for fraud departments already stretched thin by the traditional holiday crush. As more consumers take advantage of the ability to order gifts online closer to Christmas, manual review teams can be overwhelmed, according to Rurik Bradbury, chief marketing officer for Trustev. Via warns of missed shipments began notifying customers Dec. 15 and added a message to its homepage that “nationwide shipping delays that have affected many of our shipping partners,” reported Re/code. The retailer was able to guarantee two-day shipping on orders sent from its own warehouses, things like household goods and consumables, but gift items won’t get to their destinations in time.

While may be more affected than other retailers as its model relies on a network of partners to drop-ship merchandise rather than a proprietary network of warehouses such as Amazon’s—it’s still reflective of the problems that retailers face during peak times. Due to the surge of e-commerce shopping over Cyber Weekend, on-time performance figures for UPS were down, according to ShipMatrix. Via

73% will shop last-minute

National Eetail Federation logoProcrastinators are in the driver’s seat this holiday with a whopping 73 percent of U.S. holiday shoppers planning to wait until the last-minute. The National Retail Federation said 57 percent of shoppers had begun holiday shopping before Thanksgiving, but as the season progressed a new pattern has emerged, according to the latest American Express Spending and Saving Tracker. An earlier research note from RetailMeNot reported that 91 percent of U.S. shoppers have waited until the last-minute to buy holiday gifts.

The number of procrastinators has dropped slightly from last year when 79 percent said they would shop last-minute, according to the latest American Express Spending and Saving Tracker. Most (44 percent) are waiting for better deals closer to the holiday but 22 percent are still waiting until they have enough money saved up, a number unchanged from 2014. Time constraints are another factor as 20 percent of shoppers simply can’t find the time to buy, up from 16 percent in 2014. E-commerce is up, however, with 51 percent of shoppers buying online this season. Via

Macy’s giving away cash cards to shoppers

Macy's logoMacy’s will offer a special giveaway of cash cards valued at $10 at more than 600 stores on these three days only. The cards will be distributed to the first 250 shoppers, on a first-come, first-served basis, beginning at store opening.

“As the ultimate destination for affordable gifts for everyone, we’re pleased to offer an extra holiday treat to our customers as they finish out their shopping over the next week,” said Martine Reardon, Macy’s chief marketing officer. “We have a lot of great deals on last-minute gifts, and now shoppers who come early will get even more value with a free cash card on us.” Via fierceretail.comso

The race to reel in last-minute online shoppers ticking clock for Dec. 25 delivery is winding down for online retailers, but many merchants are not going quietly into the post-holiday zone. Guaranteed delivery via ground shipping ended last week for most retailers, pushing express and expedited shipping options to the fore. Emails and eye-catching countdown clock or banners on home pages aim to make sure consumers know how much time they have left if they want gifts to arrive by Christmas.

A countdown clock greets visitors to Ann Inc.’s Ann Taylor site, ticking off the seconds left to order for delivery by Christmas Eve. Ann Inc. is No. 94 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide. Shoppers have until 3 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday to order and use next-day shipping to ensure Dec. 24 delivery. Via

Can last-minute shoppers save the holiday season? the deadline to get gifts under the tree creeping closer, procrastinators around the U.S. provided a much-needed boost to retailers during the final weekend before Christmas. But as steep discounts continued to percolate, analysts said the lift was likely too little too late to salvage a slow start to the holiday shopping season.

“This weekend was a really good weekend for many of the retailers … [but] a fair amount of the traffic was driven by promotions,” said Steve Barr, U.S. retail and consumer sector leader at PwC. “I do not think the overall results are going to come in at the levels that were anticipated early in the season.” Via

Story forgoes online presence, bets on brick and mortar recent trends showing electronic retail sales are on a tear, one retailer is betting big on brick and mortar. In fact, the company is selling nothing online.

Rachel Shechtman is the founder of Story, a 2,000-square-foot store in New York City’s west side neighborhood of Chelsea. She opened her doors in December 2011, and she completely revamps the store every three to eight weeks. Everything changes — from the store’s design to the merchandise it sells. Shechtman explained to CNBC’s “On the Money” that Story has the point of view of a magazine, changes like a gallery, and sells things like a store. Via

Another billion-dollar day for online retailers“The strong growth in online revenue on Green Monday this year is representative of the overall strength of the e-commerce industry, and also indicative of the consumer shift to shopping later in the holiday season,” Custora co-founder Corey Pierson tells Internet Retailer.

“One of the primary trends we’ve seen in recent years is the tendency for holiday shoppers to wait until later in the season to make their purchases. In fact, the two weeks following Cyber Monday last year pulled in nearly one-third of all holiday revenue (26.9%), which was more than the top five shopping days of the season combined,” Pierson says. Via

Holiday shopping? Buy this: Analyst’t fret, this analyst says it really pays off to shop last minute. While retailers always plan to sell some items cheaper, the sales get better as retailers find more left on the shelves than they expected. “Unplanned [markdowns] are the ones where the stores are getting desperate, in a nutshell: apparel” said Mary Epner, principal retail analyst at Mary Epner Retail Analysis. “There are a few brands in particularly that are very hard hit.”

Talking to CNBC’s “Power Lunch” on Monday, Epner said the best deals in apparel and handbags come from retailers such as Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors. In the same vein, she noted that fashion and costume watches from last year are also deeply discounted these days, as companies like Timex and Fossil lack innovation that attracts buyers. Via

 Warm Wishes for Happy Holidays

christmas-presents_GJu7SKBO_LIt’s been a very busy season with the launch of our new publication. We’re grateful for the many positive comments, story suggestions and ideas. This is our last post before the holiday weekend break. We wish you happy holidays and an enjoyable break with family and friends. We’ll resume publishing next on Tuesday, Dec 28th.