‘After Christmas’ Sales Arrive Extra Early This Year — Like Now, Basically

It's just like how retailers messed with the timing of Black Friday sales

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Leon Neal / AFP / Getty Images

Shoppers walk past a sale sign Dec. 16, 2013

Calendar be damned, retailers are sure to roll out “after Christmas” sales this year by Dec. 23, if not sooner.

Though we’ve still got one big final shopping weekend ahead of us before Christmas, plenty of shoppers and deal-tracking websites have already turned their attention to the inevitable widespread price slashing that will take place during after Christmas sales. Because holiday sales at brick-and-mortar sales have been lackluster for the most part, and retailers are eager to clear out existing inventory to get ready for the next round of consumerism (Valentine's Day), the assumption is that consumers will see major discounting in the days ahead. Think: 70% or more off in many cases.

“I wouldn’t expect 70% across the mall like in 2008,” when over-the-top after-Christmas discounts came followed a holiday sales period marred by economic turmoil, Simeon Siegel, an analyst at Nomura Equity Research, told the Minneapolis StarTribune. “But the consumer will be the winner regardless.”

What’s especially interesting is that in some cases, consumers won’t have to wait until after Christmas for the arrival of “after Christmas” sales. In the same way that retailers have messed with the timing of Black Friday sales — which certainly began on Thanksgiving Thursday, and were launched a week earlier by some stores — shoppers can expect to be presented with “after Christmas” deals before Christmas.

(MORE: Check Out the Holiday Season’s Most Loathed Kids Gifts)

“After Christmas sales actually start before Christmas itself,” a dealnews post stated. “In fact, last year we saw sales labeled as ‘After Christmas’ that went live as early as Dec. 24. This year we expect sales to start within the same timeframe; and since Christmas Eve falls on a Tuesday, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a few branded sales begin as early as Monday, Dec. 23.”

On Amazon.com’s After Christmas Sales 2013 page (yes, one already exists), there aren’t any “after Christmas” offers being presented just yet. But a note promises that the e-retailer’s year-end deals and after-Christmas sales “will start on Dec. 23 this year, so mark it on your calendar so you don’t miss our best prices on markdowns, clearance items, and more.”

Earlier this week, the Detroit Free Press noted that retailers such as Crate and Barrel, Jo-Ann and J.C. Penney have essentially already begun “after Christmas” discounting of 60% off or more, at least in terms of seasonal merchandise like artificial trees, ornaments, wreaths and Christmas décor. The reason stores are resorting time-shifting deals is obvious, one expert cited in the story explained:

“After Christmas is before Christmas,” said Mike Bernacchi, a University of Detroit Mercy marketing professor, who added the trend is fueled by retailers’ worry they will be stuck with a bunch of leftovers after Christmas.

(MORE: The Target Black Friday Data Breach: What You Should Know)

That being said, shoppers hitting the mall this weekend shouldn’t necessarily go in anticipating widespread early “after Christmas” promotions, nor pricing on par with the steep discounting expected during the days that actually are after Christmas. In some cases, consumers will surely encounter markdowns of 50% or more. But retailers understand that on “Super Saturday” (the Saturday before Christmas) and other days leading up to Christmas, many shoppers will be braving the crowds mainly because they’re desperately trying to find last-minute gifts. In other words: these are shoppers who are going to buy stuff, regardless of the presence of across-the-board “after Christmas” discounts, or any discounts for that matter.