The holiday shopping season of 2009 will be known for many things, but when all is over and done, there will be one thing that will stand out.
This will forever be the Walmart Christmas.
A perfect storm of elements has come together to make this so, not the least of which has been the so-far near-perfect execution of its game plan by Walmart. Remember a couple of years back when the boys from Bentonville absolutely blew it and had a disastrous—at least in Walmartian terms—season? A lot of soul-searching has taken place since and the result is this dead-on plan for 2009.
It began with Walmart taking the lead in setting the pricing rules for the season ... way before the season had begun for most other retailers. They got aggressive in key holiday categories like toys and books and DVDs, catching everyone else flatfooted. From then on, it was a case of catch-up for the competition.
Walmart also has its game on with its advertising, coming up with just the right ratio of a warm-and-fuzzy, tugging-at-your-holiday-heartstrings campaigns with the down-and-dirty, we-dare-you-to-beat-our-prices ads necessary to move the merch.
It hasn’t hurt that Walmart TV ads seem to be everywhere all the time. In the New York viewing area, there are even more Walmart spots than there are for Geico—and that’s saying something.
Of course, the economic ecosystem is perfect for Walmart this season. Against a backdrop of high unemployment, stagnating business conditions and serious resentment against the big money suit-types, Walmart’s aw shucks image plays quite nicely.
Of course, there’s still three weeks left until the holiday so things can change ... but don’t count on it: Walmart owns the Christmas of 2009.