NRF predicts holiday sales spike

Officials at the Global Market Development Center think that retailers have a great opportunity to build sales through several key general merchandise categories, including gift cards, clothing, books and media, this holiday season.

GMDC says that a National Retail Federation study found that sales during the holiday season will increase by 3.4%, with online shopping becoming the most popular consumer experience for the first time in survey history.

NRF’s annual consumer spending survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics predicts consumers plan to spend an average of $967 during the 2017 holiday season compared to last year’s reported spending of $936. The figure includes food, flowers, decorations, gifts for others and greeting cards.

“With employment and incomes increase, consumers are more confident this year and that is reflected in their buying plans for the holidays,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Retailers have been stocking up in expectation of this, and all signs are that this will be a busy holiday season. 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 anticipates shoppers will jump online and flock to department stores. In fact, online shopping is at its highest rate ever this year — 59%, up from 57% last year. The survey also found that 57% will shop at a department store, 54% at a discount store, 46% at a grocery store/supermarket and 35% at clothing or accessories store. The survey found 27% plan to visit an electronics store, 25% a small or local business, and 18% will go to a crafts or fabrics store.

According to NRF, shoppers say these are at the top of their wish lists this season:

1. Gift cards/gift certificates: 61%;
2. Clothing or clothing accessories:  55% — the highest level in 14 years;
3. Books, music or movies: 40%;
4. Consumer electronics or computer-related accessories: 33%  — GMDC research suggests wrist-worn wearables, such as the Fitbit and Apple Watch, are fueling this trend,  augmented reality and virtual reality are closely following wearables in popularity, according to GMDC. Also, advanced voice devices, such as Amazon’s Echo (Alexa), Google Home and Apple’s Siri are popular; and
5. Home décor and furnishings: 24%

Retailers can capitalize on these trends and others with smart, innovative products and merchandising, according to the GMDC.

“This holiday season is an important one, given the disruptive and rapidly evolving marketplace,” said Mark Mechelse, director of research, industry insights and communications at GMDC, based in Colorado Springs, Colo. ”As the online versus offline battle continues, brick and mortar retailers have a unique opportunity to embrace change. Those that differentiate themselves and leverage technology to transform the way consumers shop can deliver enhanced experiences inside the store. Advancing a new mix of offerings through click-and-collect and home delivery, and curating an assortment of products to reflect localization strategies, retailers can satisfy even the savviest shopper’s wish list.”

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