Online shoppers, the moment you’ve been waiting for is here: Today is Cyber Monday.
No, you didn’t fall into a coma and wake up in December — it’s still September. But Target (TGT) has decided that this is a good a time as any to hold Cyber Monday. The retailer blasted out an email to subscribers this morning declaring that today is “Cyber Monday in September.”
The sale includes a few item-specific deals, as well as an offer for a free $10 gift card when you spend $75 or more. So the promotion falls well short of the deals that you’d normally find on the real Cyber Monday (which this year, thanks to a late Thanksgiving, will take place on Dec. 2). But it’s clear that the real goal here isn’t to offer blowout pricing — it just wants to get shoppers thinking about the holidays (and shopping for gifts) as early as possible.
The company has shown a willingness to push the limits on the holiday season before — last year it took some heat for making its store associates work on Thanksgiving in an attempt to get a leg-up on the Black Friday competition. This stunt isn’t likely to spark the same level of controversy, but we do expect that some consumers are going to roll their eyes at Target arbitrarily declaring a Monday in September “Cyber Monday.”
But Target isn’t alone in promoting holiday shopping way ahead of schedule. Jon Lal of BeFrugal.com says that we’ve also seen September holiday promotions from Sephora and Pottery Barn. And earlier this month we reported that Toys R Us has already starting running promotions geared toward getting people to buy presents in September. Retailers have numerous reasons for wanting to get a head-start on the holiday shopping season, including economic headwinds and a shorter-than-usual Thanksgiving-to-Christmas time period.
Still, what makes sense for businesses doesn’t necessarily make sense for consumers.
“Obviously, from a retailer’s perspective they want to get a jump on the holiday season, because they’re competing for consumers’ dollars,” says Lal. “But from a consumer’s point of view, it’s important that you have a plan for what you’re gonna do around holiday shopping… and when you start shopping early, it’s a little harder to stick to a plan and keep track of what you’ve spent.”