As varied and changeable as the weather, holiday shopping forecasts are all over the map. On the heels of a bountiful Black Friday, on which sales were 7 percent higher than last year, comes Cyber Monday and projections of an even bigger increase in sales. E-commerce in November to date is up 14 percent over last year, according to comScore. Results of Small Business Saturday will be announced later this week, an American Express spokesperson told Millionaire Corner.
But the economy’s troubles are not out of sight. Between a chaotic stock market, high unemployment and tentative job security, 42 percent of Americans plan to spend less this holiday season, according to Bankrate.com’s November Financial Security Index. Just 10 percent plan to spend more than last year.
These numbers coincide with a new investor survey conducted by Millionaire Corner that found just over 36 percent plan to decrease their holiday shopping season. Nearly 8 percent do plan to increase their spending. Just over 56 percent said their spending will be the same as last year.
Women, who tend to be in charge of household spending, were significantly more likely than men to say they plan to decrease their spending this year this year (nearly 42 percent vs. just under 31 percent). Men were more likely to say they will be spending the same on holiday shopping this year (60.5 percent versus about 51 percent).
Black Friday’s unprecedented success this year was no doubt driven by more national retailers opening earlier this year. Minnesota’s Mall of America reported a record number of shoppers. This year's sales were up to $52 billion from $45 billion last year, according to the National Retail Federation with a record 226 million shoppers visiting stores and websites over the weekend, up from 212 million last year. The average holiday shopper spent about $400 over the weekend, up from $365 last year, the NRF said.
Cyber Monday is expected to fare even better, with shoppers young (18 to 24) and older (45 and up) saying they will do almost a third of their holiday shopping online, according to a Deloitte survey.
But as welcome as these statistics are, they are not always indicative of consumer confidence, as the Bankrate.com Index indicates. The overall index fell to its second-lowest level of the year, with feelings of job security at a new low. Only 13 percent of Americans feel more secure in their jobs now than they did a year ago. On a more promising note, 21 percent reported higher net worth than one year ago, up from 19 percent last month, while fewer people than last month said their net worth is now lower.
On this Cyber Monday, shoppers will be looking to take advantage of the deals and promotions being offered by nearly 80 percent of online retailers, as estimated by the NRF. Perhaps this will offset the rising costs of holiday gifts. The annual Christmas Price Index as compiled by PNC Wealth Management, increased by nearly 4 percent this year. This is the first year that the gifts as offered in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” would for the first time cost in total more than $100,000. at an estimated $6,300--a 12.5 percent jump over 2010--those seven swans-a-swimming do not come cheap!
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.