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These Retailers Need Holiday Sales to Survive

These Retailers Need Holiday Sales to Survive
Photograph by JGI/Jamie Grill

Every retailer focuses on the holidays. For some, however, the shopping season isn’t just a frantic ordeal but a potentially life-and-death experience. Missing out on the glut of gift-giving can wreck a handful of holiday-dependent companies, which helps explain why so much attention is paid to the pace of shopping Thanksgiving week.

Nowhere is this dynamic more pronounced than in the Silicon Valley offices of Shutterfly, a company that specializes in printing photos on calendars, pillowcases and, above all, the humble holiday card. Shutterfly collects slightly more than half of its annual revenue in the final three months of the year–and that’s also typically the only period in which it posts a profit. In the past three years, the company’s fourth quarter income represented roughly three times its annual income.