Only a handful of holidays give retailers a chance to pick up sales beyond those they make on regular days. While Christmas is at the top of the list, it includes Easter, Mother’s Day and the start of school. As the summer starts, the primary chance retailers have is Father’s Day, which falls on June 15 this year. The celebration is one of the few opportunities Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) will have to pick up extra mid-year revenue for its faltering U.S. business.
The National Retail Federation provided this estimate:
As the smallest of the American gift-giving holidays, Father’s Day is a blip on the retail sales radar compared to Christmas and Mother’s Day, but the sentimental importance of the occasion will never be overlooked by consumers. According to NRF’s 2014 Father’s Day Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, the average person will spend $113.80 on neckties, tools, electronics and other special gifts for dad, slightly down from $119.84 last year. Total spending for the holiday is expected to reach $12.5 billion.
The NRF forecasts that, while about two-thirds of fathers will only get a card, sales of clothing, appliances, home improvement goods and consumer electronics will benefit, as a third of Americans buy something more than a piece of paper in an envelope.
As usual, Walmart is using both its physical stores and website as a means to bring in Father’s Day business. Walmart.com has set up an entire section devoted to the holiday. For very late shoppers, the world’s largest retailer cleverly offers late shopper gifts that include eGift cards and same-day pick up of photo gifts. And, although it is late in the shopping cycle, Walmart continues to offer a storehouse of consumer electronics, outdoor cooking, furniture, jewelry and clothing.
Among the very few gifts not available at Walmart.com are guns. People will have to go to Walmart stores to buy those.
Father’s Day — one of Walmart’s final chances to sharply boost sales in what it may find is a long, unpleasant summer if it cannot do better than it has in the past few quarters.