Penzeys Spices, an innovative, socially active company headquartered here in Wisconsin, just came up with an interesting suggestion for the 2020 holidays.  They’re referring to it as #Xtramas.  CEO Bill Penzey is asking his 700,000 Facebook followers “Can we all unite this year in support of making the time of Christmas gifts a season of giving rather than just a one-day event?” 

He comments that due to the difficulty of shopping and shipping this year, “no one anywhere should see a holiday gift as arriving late before January 8. With just how much Coronavirus is going to be everywhere in the next few weeks, repeating last year’s hundred million plus Americans getting together in person to exchange gifts would set massive unspeakable heartbreak in motion…This year more gifts than ever need to be delivered, and the number of delivery workers and vehicles just isn’t large enough to get that all done by December 25. Two extra weeks would make all the difference.” 

Promoting the 12 days of Christmas is an easy way to set this idea of extending the holiday season in motion.  December 25 is historically considered the first Christmas Day in some traditions, with the period ending right before Epiphany on January 6.  Although many stores offer 12 Days of Christmas sales before Christmas itself, the famous cumulative gift-giving that the carol from 1780 refers to is this period of celebration continuing into the new year.

It may be hard to convince Americans to change our tradition for just this year – and of course none of us can provide lords a-leaping or ladies dancing – but I like Penzey’s suggestion that we abandon the concept that Christmas morning will be the same as usual this year.  For gifts being sent to those we won’t be seeing in person due to COVID-19, why not take the pressure off the idea of having them arrive before Christmas Eve?  This might encourage consumers to spread out their shopping, which would help us all.  The rush to get everything bought, wrapped and delivered in time is adding stress to an already difficult situation.

In order to make this work, customers may want to send a note to their loved ones saying something to the effect of “This year we’re celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas! Watch for your gift to arrive soon.”  Why not create a card with this sentiment, and offer them for free to your customers?

It’s worth noting that delays in shipping from major online competitors can work to our advantage for those still wanting gifts to give on Christmas Day itself.  If you are doing in-store shopping and/or curbside pickup, your shop can offer immediate gratification.  This is one more message to include as you remind customers of the importance of shopping local this season – supporting small business while making the holidays bright.

Happy Retailing,
Carol “Orange” Schroeder