Will retailers find gold or coal in their holiday stockings?
It’s that time of year again when groups go public with sales forecasts for the Christmas selling season. Two of the most anticipated reports of this kind — issued by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) — are out and predicting merry holidays for retailers that have all their marketing P’s in place.
NRF expects sales in Nov. and Dec. to increase 3.6 percent year-over-year, “significantly higher” than the 2.5 percent average over the past decade and slightly higher than the 3.4 percent averaged over the past seven years.
“All of the fundamentals are in a good place, giving strength to consumers and leading us to believe that this will be a very positive holiday season,” said Matthew Shay, president and chief executive of NRF, in a statement. “This year hasn’t been perfect, starting with a long summer and unseasonably warm fall, but our forecast reflects the very realistic steady momentum of the economy and industry expectations.”
“We remain optimistic that the pace of economic activity will pick up in the near term,” Mr. Shay added.
ICSC is forecasting sales at physical stores will increase 3.3 percent for this year’s holiday season versus 2.2 percent in 2015. The trade group expects retailers with a physical and digital presence to outperform those that only operate stores.
“Throughout 2016, consumers have demonstrated a tendency to shop across both digital and physical retail. Even shoppers who purchase online favor retailers with a physical presence and an increasing number of consumers are buying online and collecting in stores,” said Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC. “Consumer intentions show that this digital/physical convergence will be critical for the health of the industry as we close out the year.”
According to ICSC, 85 percent of shoppers will conduct research online before shopping in stores this holiday season and 39 percent will take advantage of click and collect services, up from 32 percent in 2015. Importantly, 83 percent of click and collectors will make additional purchases while in the store.
- National Retail Federation Forecasts Holiday Sales to Increase 3.6% – National Retail Federation
- ICSC Forecasts 3.3 Percent Growth this Holiday Season – International Council of Shopping Centers
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What is your forecast for the 2016 Christmas selling season? How big a role will cross-channel capabilities play in sales performance this year?