It used to be so simple. Months before publication, in retail chain head offices up and down the land, publishers and booksellers between them would decide on the range of books that constituted the Christmas bestsellers. Some negotiating, horse trading and promotional spend later, from early October through to 24th December, the books you would see front of store tended to be a permanent fixture. Whether they were selling particularly well or not.
Fast forward to 2016. Oh, how Amazon has changed the perspective on that model. What is selling and therefore being promoted now in the run up to Christmas is (shock) what consumers are actually really interested in buying. Some of which could have been planned and predicted. Some of which could not.
So a retailer’s agility and capacity to merchandise reactively in store takes on a huge significance. Amazon’s chart is effectively is your weekly planogram. Then it is down to your ability to swap out that failing celebrity memoir for e.g. The GCHQ Puzzle Book or another one of those books that might not have seemed such a nailed-on success back at that head office presentation at least six months previously.
Without being privy to the inner sanctum of the publisher sales department, an educated guess would tell me that some high street and supermarket chains are somewhat better at this than others.