Are holiday sales likely to fall below 2010 levels? What do industry reports say?
Only 64 days to Black Friday and forecasts for holiday sales growth are beginning to snowball. Chicago-based ShopperTrak, an organization that focuses on retail foot traffic, is predicting that holiday sales growth will increase 3 percent this year, a decrease from the 4.1 percent gain last holiday season. Foot traffic, the group said, will decrease 2.2 percent, suggesting that shoppers will be limiting their shopping excursions.
Shoppers have thus far visited an average of 3.1 stores per shopping trip, down from 3.19 in 2010. "Converting fewer numbers of shoppers to buyers has never been more important for retailers," the group said in a statement.
The International Council of Shopping Centers, a New York-based trade group, said this week that it projects “a moderate gain” of 2.2 percent to $449 billion during November and December.
If this comes to pass, the rise would mark the second consecutive increase for the holiday shopping season following two consecutive seasons of revenue declines in 2008 and 2009, the ICSC said. The organization projects established chain store sales to gain 3.5 percent, compared to 3.8 percent last year.
A healthy holiday shopping season could be just what the ailing economy ordered. It is the busiest shopping season of the year. Consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity, is a critical driver of the U.S. economy. But there are concerns about how high unemployment, high gas prices, and more frugal attitudes will impact holiday sales.
Almost half of investors surveyed this month by Millionaire Corner said they will not be spending more money than they did last year during the holidays. Only about 12 percent said they would, while about 41 percent said they did not know.
The ShopperTrak and ICSC forecasts anticipate the Oct. 6 holiday shopping projection due from the National Retail Federation, the largest retail trade group.
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.