Retailers across the country are gearing up for a busy holiday sales season, with sales projected to be 3.6 to 4 percent higher than last year, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reports.
That increased spending can add up for independent retailers. NRF cites data from market research firm Proper Insights & Analytics that projects individual consumers will spend $967.13 on average this holiday season, contributing an estimated $678 billion to $682 billion to the economy.
“With employees and incomes increasing, consumers are more confident this year and that is reflected in their buying plans for the holidays,” Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO, says. “Retailers are preparing for a rush of consumers leading into Thanksgiving and all through December, and are offering a wide array of merchandise and promotions so shoppers can find great gifts and great deals at the same time.”
NRF reports that for the first time in its history of tracking holiday shopping behaviors, online shopping will be more popular than visiting brick-and-mortar retail locations. Nearly 60 percent of shoppers plan to shop online, and 94 percent of those online shoppers plan to take advantage of free shipping promotions. Close to 50 percent say they will buy online and pick up products in store.
One-quarter of those polled plan to visit a local or small business for their holiday purchases, the NRF states, and 18 percent of shoppers will visit a crafts or fabrics store. More than half of all holiday shoppers surveyed plan to begin their shopping in early November.
For the eleventh consecutive year, gift cards top shoppers’ holiday gift buying lists, with 61 percent of shoppers planning to purchase at least one during the holiday season. About 20 percent of all surveyed shoppers say they plan to purchase home improvement items during the holiday rush.
Writing for Forbes, Nikki Baird, managing partner of Retail Systems Research, says the period between Black Friday and Christmas is critical for retailers, some of whom see as much as 40 percent of their annual revenues emerge during this period.
She credits a few factors for retailers’ optimistic outlook for this holiday season.
- Shoppers feel confident. Consumer confidence is currently at its highest level in more than 15 years, around 125.9. Baird says that this increased confidence mixed with the hope of possible tax relief in April could encourage shoppers to spend more this season.
- Inventory is high. Baird cites the NRF’s finding that retailers imported a record number of items this year, creating a heavy inventory going into the holiday sales season. Baird says many retailers may consider steep discounts to help clear inventory, spurring increased shopping.
- Retailers are spending more on marketing. Citing data from RetailMeNot, Baird says 85 percent of retailers plan to spend more on holiday marketing efforts this year compared to 2016. Baird notes that many retailers are also starting their marketing efforts earlier in order to capture as many sales as possible in the final weeks of the year.
Get your business set for the holiday rush by downloading the North American Retail Hardware Association’s Home Sweet Home Study holiday-themed signage, which encourages customers to shop local. These shelf talkers, bag stuffers and ready-to-go social media posts help shoppers understand the financial benefits of shopping locally this holiday season and all year long.