The holiday shopping season is off to a slow start this year, so supermarkets looking to boost seasonal sales are going to have to think outside the box.The holiday shopping season is off to a slow start this year, so supermarkets looking to boost seasonal sales are going to have to think outside the box. A few additional pressures on consumers aren't helping, such as the Congressional deal to end the government shutdown and avert debt default, which could set the stage for another political showdown this winter. And it will certainly effect how consumers think about their households’ ability to spend on Halloween, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Kwanzaa and Christmas. Also, Thanksgiving and Chanukah celebrations fall on the same day this year, a rare coincidence that diminishes food sales opportunities in many markets. And those holidays come late in November, which also leaves less time for households to prepare for Christmas gatherings. Such pressures on consumers will affect retailers’ ability to achieve any real growth this holiday season. The Lempert Report therefore urges retailers to structure holiday offers that maximize value and convenience. For example, food assembly and prepared meals. Also, retailers should message consumers aggressively on their websites and in social media. Retailers have to inventively present and cross-merchandise and be aggressive in advertising if they are to to well this holiday season. As we've seen, consumers are increasingly relying on the Web and social media to help shape their final purchase decisions. Therefore, The Lempert Report also stresses the importance of ongoing dialogue with consumers through social media such as Facebook and Twitter. The content could be about coupons, flash sales, special discounts and check-in rewards, as well as new foods, entertaining ideas, recipes and nutrition. This holiday season consumers need to be encouraged and reminded where they can get the best deals and the most convenient options. Supermarkets that are aggressive in these areas will be able to get the most from this holiday season.