New Economic Realities   //   December 23, 2022

Post-holiday sales for Shein, Zulily and others lean into self-gifting

DTC outdoors brand Solo Stove sells smokeless fire pits that have been discounted as much as 40% this holiday season. This year, sales peaked during Cyber Week, and also ran high this week as customers scooped up the products for guaranteed shipping by Christmas.

But the discounts won’t end after the holiday shopping rush dies down, either.

“Historically, we see a nice little bump from Christmas Day through New Year’s,” said John Merris, CEO of parent company Solo Brands. “We lean into this idea of ‘instead of gifting for others, get a gift for yourself.’”

January can bring a slowdown with people stocked up on items and having their budgets tapped from holiday spending. In turn, retailers like Solo Brands and others are planning to run after-Christmas sales to woo shoppers’ to spend their holiday cash or gift cards on themselves.

The National Retail Federation in a survey found 70% of U.S. shoppers plan to shop after Dec. 25, mirroring pre-pandemic levels for post-Christmas shopping. That activity can look like value-driven shoppers trying to take advantage of remaining holiday sales and promotions, use gift cards and return or exchange unwanted gifts. Come January, though, shopping tends to slow down, leaving some retailers with lean sales in the final month of their fiscal year.

Merris said Solo Stove will market to shoppers between Christmas and New Year’s with the expectation that people are more likely to shop for themselves. The promotions stay the same, as Merris said the brand “is very careful about not discounting deeper at the end of the month than we do at the beginning of the month” in order to ensure that customers don’t return products and repurchase at a higher rate.

But post-holiday, the messaging changes to shift from gifting to receiving.

“We lean into this ‘Get what you really wanted,’ or ‘Get them what they really wanted’, which has been a fun campaign for us,” he said. “And we see success with that. Consumers definitely are still in shopping mode through New Year’s.”

Targeted sales

In keeping with the theme of shoppers treating themselves, online marketplace Zulily is launching its first-ever “Magic for Moms” promotion that extends through the New Year. One thousand shoppers will receive a $40 in store credit. Users can sign up by entering their email on a landing page, with the first 1,000 registrants offered their credit by Jan. 9. 

“We wanted to encourage moms to extend a bit of holiday magic to themselves and have fun shopping without breaking the bank,” said Denise Jaeschke, vice president of integrated customer marketing at Zulily. 

The brand will also offer promotions on self-care areas like exercise gear, sleep hygiene, health item and beauty routines. Tailored as a shopping destination for moms to take care of planning and to-do lists, the brand is also anticipating to see sales on items that coincide with needs for the New Year.   

“During the last week of the year, we see our customers already thinking of what they need for organizing their homes in the new year, new kids’ sports seasons, all the way to Valentine’s Day,” Jaeschke said. 

Fast fashion retailer Shein will be running its annual End-Of-Year Sale between Christmas and New Year’s. Representatives wouldn’t share specific promotions or sales figures but said the discounts will apply to top trends and best-selling items seen throughout the year. 

A representative told Modern Retail via email that the sale is “one of the biggest promotions of the year.” 

Though sales volume is higher before Christmas, a Shein customer survey found 21% plan to continue holiday shopping in the last few days of December. And trends indicate they’re shopping for themselves. 

“At the end of December, we typically see the demand for vacation wear, such as swimsuits, start to rise,” Shein told Modern Retail in a statement. “In January, lingerie and loungewear from our Luvlette brand will reach a sales peak because of Valentine’s Day, and the demand for activewear from our Glowmode brand will also increase as a result of those New Year’s resolution fitness goals.”

Promotions leveling off

Even with these upcoming promotions, shoppers who are holding out for better deals than they saw earlier in the shopping season may be disappointed. Polly Wong, president of marketing firm Belardi Wong, said great deals tend to slow down after Christmas. That’s because retailers already likely offered the deepest discounts in the midst of the season. And if they didn’t run promotions, they won’t start now, she said.

“We will see these promotions continue to drag out. But I do not expect a more promotional landscape,” Wong said. “Everybody already threw the kitchen sink at everybody to drive sales.”

The month of January at one point was a big month for clearance sales with retailers looking to sell excess inventory before starting a new fiscal year on Feb. 1, Wong said. But in recent years, as holiday spend pulls forward earlier into November, consumer demand after the New Year has gone down. 

“We’ve seen suppressed sales demand and suppressed consumer spending following the holidays over the last couple of years at least, because so much of that promotional activity has pulled forward,” Wong said. 

Still, the shopping that does occur is likely fueled by someone’s one want and needs. This especially rings true for sectors that fall into the “new year, new you” category like health and fitness, activewear, and beauty and skincare, Wong said.

“Post-Christmas, it’s really just the shopping for the self, which maybe doesn’t rise to that same overall level that gifting does. Just on overall volume, it’s not the same,” Wong said.