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Economic Uncertainties Yield Modest Holiday Retail Sales Forecasts

Majority of affluent households plan to spend the same as last year on gifts

| BY Donald Liebenson

Is it too soon for holiday retail sales forecasts? Probably not, considering that holiday shopping can account for as much as 40 percent of a retailer’s annual revenue and that from the upcoming presidential election and the still unresolved fiscal cliff, there is much economic uncertainty going in to this year’s shopping season. That’s why you might have noticed Christmas displays beginning to crowd out Halloween offerings in some retail stores.

So what’s the forecast? The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) is –projecting a 3 percent year-to-year increase in U.S. same-store sales for this holiday shopping season. The ICSC also expects shopping-center sales to increase 2.5 percent his year to $483 billion.

From Wilkes University professor Anthony Liuzzo, who has been forecasting holiday retail sales for more than two decades, comes a similar 2012 projection of a 3 percent increase in holiday sales. Liuzzo's ’conservative prediction is lower than last season’s actual 4.1 percent. “Despite the fact that consumers indeed desire to spend much more this year than they did last year,” he said in a statement, “they might be unable to do so, due to the continued high rate of unemployment, fears of job losses, extremely modest wage increases, the depressed-housing market, and uncertainty in stock prices.”

Heading into the year’s biggest shopping season, affluent households surveyed in September by Millionaire Corner are almost evenly split on the question of whether they are better off financially than they were a year ago. Fifty-two percent said yes, while 48 percent said no. Households with a net worth of less than $100,000 were the most likely to say they were not better off financially this year (63 percent).

When asked if they plan to spend more or less than last year over the December holidays, nearly three-quarters (75 percent) said they would be spending the same.

About the Author

Donald Liebenson

Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.  

A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.