When I got to work this morning the Kiplinger Holiday shopping forcast was in my email:
The outlook for 2013 holiday retail sales?
More ho-hum than ho-ho, unfortunately.
So no big boost for the economy from it,
though we still expect fourth-quarter GDP growth
to top a sluggish 1.7% third-quarter rate of gain.
About 3.5% more sales this year than last...
about one percentage point slower growth
than in the 2012 Thanksgiving-to-New-Year’s span.
One reason: A truncated shopping period.
A late Thanksgiving and midweek Christmas Day
this year mean consumers will have a mere 26 days
to load up on gifts, decorations, entertaining, etc.
Last year, they had an exceptionally long 32 days.
Each day can represent about $10 billion in sales.
Plus all the preexisting dampening factors
that have been curbing consumer spending all year:
High unemployment, meager wage and income gains,
anxiety about government fiscal policy decisions,
and increased 2013 payroll and other federal taxes.
Helping to offset those curbs…
Easier credit and a greater willingness
to use plastic. Consumer spending is growing nearly twice as fast as wages are.
Reduced savings, too. From just 1% in 2008, the savings rate rose to nearly 8%
near the recession’s end. Now it’s slipped below 5% and will continue to drift down.
Retailers will try to gin up buying especially early. Some stores,
especially those online, will start promoting holiday deals right after Halloween.
And look for Black Friday sales to pop up days, even weeks, before Thanksgiving.
Among those that will fare the best: Electronics stores, as technology items…
smart TVs and phones, tablets, e-readers and gaming consoles…fly off shelves.
Plus discount retailers and mass merchandisers…Costco, Kmart, Target,
Walmart and the like. All will benefit from consumers’ cautious spending this year.
Online sales will climb 20%, with cyberstores nabbing a 6% market share.
In 2012…5%. Half of all shoppers will buy something online this holiday season.
Expect retailers to fight hard for sales this year, offering plenty of bargains
to entice shoppers into stores and then providing better service to get them spending.
Many will equip aisle-roaming sales staff with tablets or smart phones.
Among their jobs: Show buyers alternatives that aren’t in stock and place orders
for them, with free delivery to home or store. Watch out for showroomers…customers
who look over products in stores, then buy elsewhere for less…and offer to match
or beat prices. And process sales on the spot, letting customers avoid checkout lines.
Look, too, for more innovative e-marketing: Notices of flash sales…discounts
available for 24 hours or less, personalized recommendations (à la Amazon) and more.
Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace & goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.