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Shopping Festivals Are Back. Will They Spur Early Holiday Sales?

Will curated shopping festivals convince consumers to buy now and beat the holiday rush?

10.10 Shopping Festival

Now entering its second year, the 10.10 Shopping Festival is set to debut on Oct. 10. Sponsored by Coresight Research along with partners Access Beauty Insiders, Smartzer, And Luxe Inc., China Luxury Advisors, GiftNow, Firework, Ghost Retail and CommentSold, the 12-hour shopping extravaganza kicking off at 10 a.m. EST offers deals and specials ahead of Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend.

Coresight said the initiative aims to “drive new engagement, customers and sales while moving the start of the holiday season into October to help ease pressures on supply chains.” Inspired by Amazon Prime Day and Alibaba’s 11.11 Singles Day, the virtual sales platform will offer fashion, beauty, homewares and health products, with 20-plus retailers participating.

Guess will rejoin the effort while newcomers like Vera Bradley, Macy’s, Milly, CoFi Leathers, Naytra Couture, Astouri Apparel, Elizabeth Arden, hairstyling tool maker T3, Purlisse Beauty and more will sell on the platform for the first time this year. Brands and retailers can donate up to 10 percent of sales to participating charities, including the American Heart Association, Child Mind Institute, Delivering Good, the National Breast Cancer Foundation, the Get in Touch Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Planned Parenthood, Soles 4 Souls, Retailers United and Pink Aid.

Coresight’s research says Western companies are taking a cue from China, where shopping festivals and livestreamed events are now routine for many brands and consumers. The country’s livestreaming e-commerce market nearly doubled from $63 billion to $125 billion on major platforms over the past year alone.

Coresight believes the U.S. shouldn’t be far behind, estimating that livestream-enabled e-commerce will more than triple in adoption by 2023, reaching $25 billion. The 10.10 Shopping Festival’s participants will livestream holiday—a departure from last year’s interactive, gamified event, put on in partnership with shopping rewards app Shopkick and B2B fashion intelligence hub Fashwire.

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Recent developments support livestreaming’s growing traction. Nordstrom hosted a string of livestreamed events in the spring, giving at-home shoppers real-time access to store employees, brand partners, experts and stylists. In August, streetwear trade show Agenda Show brought shoppable livestreaming to its Las Vegas B2B conferences and B2C festivals through a partnership with DroppTV.

Cosmo Loves x Bolt

Tuesday saw the launch of a multi-week shopping event geared specifically toward younger consumers. Created by Hearst Magazines’ Cosmopolitan brand and Bolt, an online checkout company, Cosmo Loves x Bolt’s kickoff coincided with “Do Something Nice Day” on Oct. 5—a holiday dedicated to performing acts of kindness.

Cosmo Loves x Bolt shopping festival for millennials and Gen Z
A look from Tadashi Shoji. Courtesy

Cosmopolitan said the event, which runs through Nov. 16, aims to ring in the holiday season and encourage consumers to shop early. The online showcase features “Cosmo Loves” editors’ picks, including apparel, accessories, beauty, home, sports and outdoor gear from brands like Tadashi Shoji, Favor, Osmotics, Dana Rebecca Designs and Bliss.

“Cosmopolitan is always looking for ways to provide our audience with innovative experiences that are seamless, fun, and engaging,” Nancy Berger, senior vice president, publishing director and chief revenue officer of Cosmopolitan, said in a statement. Cosmo’s shopping enthusiasts highlight the importance of a partnership with Bolt, whose online checkout capabilities offer a seamless buying experience. “We’re excited to give our community a memorable way to observe ‘Do Something Nice Day’ by shopping for gifts on their holiday gifting lists,” she added.

For Gen Z and millennial consumers, one-click checkout and fast, free shipping are not just a norm, but an expectation, Bolt says. Once consumers have signed into the Bolt merchant network and filled out their payment and shipping details, they can continuously buy without re-entering their information. The platform removes points of friction in the checkout process, allowing shoppers to check out as if they’re returning customers, Bolt says.

“Consumers are starting their holiday shopping earlier than ever this year and major industry forecasters are predicting that holiday retail sales will increase 7 percent to 9 percent over last year,” said Tom Berger, vice president of marketing at Bolt. “Retailers and brands that meet that early demand and offer the right combination of deals and a seamless omnichannel experience that includes one-click checkout ease will be ahead of the game.” Klarna, meanwhile, says 40 percent of consumers are starting their holiday shopping earlier than they did last season.

And amid rampant shipping delays and logistical challenges to the retail supply chain, fashion players like those taking part in Cosmo Loves x Bolt are likely also hoping to encourage shoppers to jumpstart their holiday shopping before the usual retail rush, which typically centers around Black Friday-Cyber Monday Sales. Bolt is giving away several $1,000 credits redeemable from partner brands.

As a “longtime customer of Bolt’s,” Favor has long enjoyed the benefits of the commerce company’s “network of one-click-ready consumers,” said Anne England, founder of the home accessories brand.

“Combining Cosmopolitan editors’ expert curation of home decor and accessories with Bolt’s network is a dynamic partnership that we’re thrilled to be a part of,” she added.