It’s not an easy time for retailers as they fight for fickle consumers while tightening hold on their wallets. This critical quarter of holiday shopping is looking more uncertain than usual in the wake of an unsettling election, possible Black Friday burnout, and rumors of bears on the horizon.
While holiday sales are traditionally about giving to others, either by giving gifts or less directly by entertaining friends and family, some retailers continue to give customers reason to celebrate themselves.
The monolith of self-shopping holidays is Singles Day on Nov. 11 . This 24-hour super sale was trademarked in 2012 by Alibaba, the Amazon of China. This year’s annual sales are estimated at $20 billion according to New York-based research firm Fung Global Retail & Technology. That means that Singles Day, a day devoted to buying for oneself, will generate more revenue than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.
A recent study by retail marketing agency TPN, in partnership C&R Research, showed that in contrast to dated stereotypes of singles being lonely and fearful, many are quite satisfied with their lives. As opposed to BOGOs on microwavable meals and generic cat food, the new wave of singles have high per-capita spending and make major purchases, particularly in discretionary categories like leisure and entertainment. With an estimated spend at $567 billion by singles aged 35-54, they represent fertile ground for retailers.
Whether celebrating singlehood or happily ensconced in coupledom, research shows that buying gifts for oneself is both healthy and helpful, especially if those purchases are linked to professional achievements.
In an economy with a huge and growing population of the self-employed, many don’t have managers to give financial and emotional acknowledgement of success. Today, 15.5 million people work as independent contractors, according to the latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The trend is projected to accelerate, with 60 million people (or 40% of the total workforce) working for themselves by 2020.
As the self-employed population grows, so do opportunities for retailers to market gifts that celebrate them.
Gifts associated with personal or professional achievement fuel both happiness and confidence. Even smaller rewards, like a good bottle of wine or a 90-minute massage, can help magnify the glory of life’s smaller victories and provide insulation from daily disappointments and frustrations.
Whether the milestones are big or small, smart retailers are wise to tap into the all angles of self-gifting as they eke out competitive advantage wherever possible.