Big brands including Etsy, Ralph Lauren and mall operator Tanger are spending more on marketing and using other tactics to spur holiday sales as they bet on shoppers venturing out after last year's COVID lockdowns.
Even so, soaring costs to ship goods and hire workers mean customers will likely find leaner inventories and higher prices for products ranging from lipstick to stilettos and clothing, companies told investors on recent earnings calls.
Tanger Factory Outlets is starting early marketing campaigns and Christmas tree lighting events sponsored by local businesses to lure people to its shopping centers. The company is also turning to on-site marketing including digital directories, retailer partnerships and back-lit signboards to keep people enticed while shopping.
Etsy is pushing out gift guides and creating localized online events for holiday shoppers this year, Chief Executive Joshua Silverman said on a Wednesday earnings call. The company plans to target new buyers in the fourth quarter with television and digital video ads and coupons.
Supply chain delays have also forced retailers to tighten their inventories, with some forgoing major holiday marketing. E.l.f. Beauty in August nixed holiday programming plans "to prioritize core assortment in the face of the industry-wide container imbalance," Chief Financial Officer Mandy Fields said.
Ralph Lauren, which is increasing its marketing from the first half of the year, expects outerwear such as quilted jackets to sell well this holiday season after strong results in the third quarter, the company said on its investor call.
Estee Lauder and Steve Madden are stocking shelves with early holiday merchandise including top-selling fragrances and glitzy, party-ready shoes, respectively.
Tracey Thomas Travis, Estee Lauder's CFO, said the company is "in very good shape for the holiday" after manufacturing its products and ordering gift sets early.
With inventories tight, shoppers may see fewer discounts on shoes and clothing. Edward Rosenfeld, CEO of Steve Madden, said the shoe brand is releasing fewer promotions compared with pre-pandemic levels during the holiday season. Michael Kors parent company Capri Holdings plans to increase prices of its bags, CEO John Idol said on a Wednesday earnings call.
"As it relates to holiday, we will not be in the inventory position that we would have wanted to be in," Idol said, adding that the company still anticipates being able to meet demand.
British clothing retailer Next Plc warned that stock availability remained "challenging," with delays in its international supply chain being compounded by labor shortages in the UK transport and warehouse networks.
(Reporting by Arriana McLymore in New York; Additional reporting by James Davey in London and Emma Thomasson in Berlin; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)
By Arriana McLymore