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Nordstrom Waits Alone for the Holidays

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Like a contrarian reindeer in Santa’s fleet, Seattle-based department store Nordstrom is bucking the holiday trend to start sales early this year. Setting itself apart from the myriad retailers that have insisted on forcing the public to start thinking about Christmas before letting daylight savings, let alone Halloween, pass, Nordstrom is sticking to the traditional Black Friday date that was once used to kick off the holiday season.

With the economy being what it is, Americans are planning to spend less this year -- and with the buyer’s market we’re in, stores are bending over backward to bring in as much business as possible. As such, welcome to Black November.

Holiday sales have already started online and at brick-and-mortar stores like Walmart and Barnes & Noble. Amazon offered some simple logic for its early-bird behavior, saying, “Black Friday isn't until the day after Thanksgiving, but since you're here already, looking for Black Friday deals, we thought we'd get the deals going a little early.”

“We won’t be decking our halls until Nov. 25,” says Nordstrom. “We just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time.” Some holiday merchandise goes on sale early, but it's largely confined to decor, like Christmas ornaments.

Nordstrom’s self-circumscribed holiday “rhythm,” falling on the far more patient side of the department store aisle, may prove a detriment to its bottom line, especially with shoppers already trending toward discounters this year. According to Accenture’s annual consumer holiday shopping study, 93% percent of consumers are motivated by deals and 73% will make their first stop discount retailers.

Some of these discounters including Kohl's, Macy's, Old Navy, and Target are holiday holdouts this season, technically waiting until Black Friday proper to start ringing their jingle bells. But we’ll barely have finished digesting our turkey and letting the tryptophan run its course before they have us stampeding through their doors -- no sooner than the stroke of midnight. 

(See also: Will These 5 Holiday Shopping Trends Save Retail Investors From a Blue Christmas?)
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.