Planning Holiday Mail Patterns in an Election Year

Posted on by Larry Riggs

We are optimistic that the fall and holiday business will continue to improve over the prior year. There is, however, some uncertainty this year as to what impact the upcoming Presidential election will have on consumer behavior and spending.

In order to determine the impact of sales during the Presidential election, we prepared an analysis from the 2004 (Bush vs. Kerry) and 2008 (McCain vs. Obama) elections. The closest mailing we did to election week in 2004 arrived in-home approximately 7-11 days before Election Day.  In 2008, the closest arrived in-home during election week.

For the mailing we analyzed in 2004, approximately 22% of the sales for this period came in during election week. About 84% of the circulation for this period was in-home prior to the election. In comparison, the 2008 mailing hit in-home the actual week of the election, and 20% of the sales came in during election week.

With only a 2% difference in election week sales despite the differing mail dates, it doe not appear moving the in-home to election week had any impact on the sales pattern.

It is not necessarily a disadvantage to be in-home during election week. Since many other mailers are avoiding that week, there should be less competition in the mailbox. What’s more, the way customers shop has changed significantly over the past few presidential elections. Today, many consumers who are glued to the television during the election are also watching results online, meaning they can shop while they keep tabs on what is happening.

Dates to Keep in Mind

  • Thanksgiving Day falls on Thursday, Nov. 22, which is almost five weeks prior to Christmas.  This allows plenty of time for holiday shopping especially considering the fact that consumers shop later every year. This will certainly help to offset any impact caused by the election.
  •  Higher than anticipated advertising mail starting prior to Black Friday and continuing through December may contribute to some standard mail processing delays again this year.  In the past, advertising mail volume generally drops off by Dec. 12. However, last year, high advertising mail volumes continued up until Christmas because many consumers didn’t begin shopping until the week before Christmas.

Stephen R. Lett is the president of Lett Direct, Inc.


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