CFOs note factors that will drive holiday sales in new survey

TORONTO Many retail CFOs are adjusting their outlooks as the holiday season approaches, according to a new survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The survey, which polled 56 CFOs (33 North American and 23 international) from retail chains in the specialty, grocery and department store sectors, noted that many CFOs are observing a slow turnaround, as more shoppers reportedly have become more optimistic this year. Other factors that may influence holiday shoppers and related spending include advertising, e-commerce and new store openings, the CFOs said.

When dissecting these factors, PwC found that:

  • Nearly half (49%) of CFOs surveyed believed their customers are feeling slightly more optimistic about their financial situation and have begun to slowly resume retail purchases;
  • Many CFOs noted that retailers are more focused now on spending advertising dollars on retaining and growing current customers instead of acquiring new shoppers;
  • While all participating retailers have websites, only 67% of CFOs said that their sites actually were e-commerce transactional sites; and
  • About one-third of retailers surveyed continued to defer new store openings where possible, but those that deferred did so on a smaller percentage of planned new stores.

“Retailers continue to strategically manage spend and have worked hard to minimize the risk of owning too much inventory, placing them in a better position than in 2009. These actions have been a key driver to improving retail balance sheets in 2010, and the continued focus will be critical in the year ahead,” said Susan McPartlin, U.S. retail and consumer industry leader at PwC.

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