Attention Shoppers: Where Are You?

Dec 21, 2004

By George Anderson   

Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue (to borrow from McDonald’s) have been “lovin’ it” this holiday season as upscale shoppers have been spending freely, but, with less than a week before Christmas to go, retailers catering to those of more modest means are still waiting for customers to show them the money.

According to most accounts, shopper traffic for the last weekend before Christmas was disappointing.

ShopperTrak reported retail sales were down seven percent last Saturday compared to a year earlier.

Michael Niemira, chief economist at the International Council of Shopping Centers and an adviser to ShopperTrak, told The Associated Press, “We are not getting the kind of lift we need. Traffic and sales were below expectations.”

Numerous reasons are given for apparently modest sales being posted by retailers this holiday, including the lack of must-have items. Those products in strong demand, such as Apple Computer’s iPod, are said to be in short supply as consumers snap up available product.

Some believe that a longer shopper season (two days more than last year) has consumers holding out for last minute deals. Others say the growing popularity of gift cards (accounted for after redemption) is skewing the sales picture. The increasing numbers of consumers shopping online also impacts volume and e-tail revenues are not included in the overall sales numbers.

Moderator’s Comment: Do you agree that sales will increase or decrease modestly for this holiday season (excluding
luxury retailers)? What do you believe are the biggest factors behind this holiday season’s shopping activity?

George Anderson – Moderator

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