US retail sales showed slight improvement in September. Today, we look at how US retailers are getting ready for holiday sales in-store and online. US retail sales rose 0.6% in September 2016, compared to a slight decrease of 0.3% in August. National Retail Federation forecasts 3.6% US retail sales growth to $655.8 billion — significantly higher than the 10-year average of 2.5%. E-commerce sales will grow between 7%-10%. Bain Capital says retail sales could grow up to 4%.
Consumer Technology Association predictions: expect a later start to holiday sales, strong Black Friday sales, more “manufactured holiday” events such as Amazon Prime Day, more online shopping and connected devices will be popular. Retailers are not as enthused as economists about holiday sales according to Retail Metrics, blaming lackluster sales on everything from weather to the US election. SeekingAlpha predicts online sales will increase 17.2% this year.
Armando Roggio at Practical Ecommerce predicts 60% of online sales will include free shipping. He also said mobile commerce should grow by 60% and online video ads will increase. NetElixir says 30% of sales will be via smartphone although that will drive average sale value down somewhat. It also predicts Amazon will get 28% of all online sales this holiday season. According to a new report by BestBlackFriday.com, 40 % of consumers this holiday season are looking for deals in electronics, including TVs, computers, tablets and mobile phones.
Sears is first out of the gate with a holiday season promotion for Kenmore appliances, Craftsman tools, NordicTrack exercise equipment, mattresses, footwear and apparel. Nordstrom is hoping a new “reserve and try in-store” mobile shopping app will be a hit during the holiday season. Retailers and e-commerce companies are offering incentives to attract seasonal employees during the competitive hiring marketplace. Amazon expects to hire 120,000 additional seasonal workers this holiday season to accommodate its expected 26% growth in sales.
Retail sales bounce back strong in September
Retail sales in September rose 0.6%, the Commerce Department said Friday, snapping back from a 0.3% decline in August.
Sales for the month, adjusted for seasonal variation, holiday and trading-day differences but not price changes, climbed to $459.8 billion, a 2.7% increase from the year-ago period. Total sales from July to September were also up 2.4 percent from the same period last year, and non-store retail sales were up 0.3% in the month and increased 10.6% from September 2015.
The sales climb is the highest in three months, hitting right on the median prediction forecasted by 77 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. “The combination of solid job growth, while slowing, modest pickup in wages, and pretty good measures of household net worth should continue to push consumer spending up over the next year,” David Berson, chief economist at Nationwide Insurance, told Bloomberg. Via retaildive.com
Holiday 2016: NRF Foresees a Holly, Jolly Christmas For Retailers
The National Retail Federation (NRF) is anticipating one of the best holiday selling seasons in a decade.
The trade association is projecting retail sales in November and December to grow 3.6 percent to $655.8 billion — significantly higher than the 10-year average of 2.5 percent, and above the seven-year average of 3.4 percent since economic recovery began in 2009. By comparison, holiday sales increased 3.2 percent last year.
E-tailers and other direct sellers have further cause to celebrate, as the NRF is forecasting that channel’s sales to grow 7-10 percent for the period, to as much as $117 billion. Via twice.com
Five Things I Expect For The 2016 Holiday Season
The 2016 holiday season is upon us. Here are five things to expect:
1. Expect a later start to the traditional holiday season. Two years ago, retailers attempted to pull the holiday season into September and October but these efforts weren’t well received by consumers. Last year, the bulk of holiday advertising started on Nov. 1, which I believe will mark the beginning of the holiday shopping season from now on. However, this year will be a little different. Elections, especially presidential ones, tend to crowd out other advertising by bidding up the cost of advertising spots. I expect the same to happen this year. With Election Day on November 8, I expect holiday promotions to be delayed until Wed., Nov. 9, and will start with an instant crescendo.
2. Black Friday will be more pronounced than before. But Black Friday will be less meaningful than in the past. It now runs a week-long and it defines if the holiday season is good or bad. Expect it to be a very strong focus in 2016, given the later start to the holiday season. Black Friday week was historically several distinct periods that have morphed into one long episode. The pre-Black Friday period will see heavy promotions. Physical stores that have experimented with early opening on Thanksgiving evening, and even 24-hour sales events will cut back to more traditional Friday morning openings. Filling their place will be focused online promotions that will ramp up Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving, and throughout Thanksgiving Day and into Friday as physical stores open. Via twice.com
For retailers, there’s a disconnect in the holiday sales forecast
How’s the US consumer doing? The answer depends on whether you ask an economist or a retailer. Ask most retailers, and the outlook is the shakiest it’s been in years. Just 49% of US retail chains said sales at established locations rose in the second quarter from a year earlier, according to an analysis of 110 companies by research firm Retail Metrics.
That marks the lowest percentage for any quarter since 2009, when the US was digging out from the 2008 global financial crisis. And what sales growth there is hasn’t been so hot—in the past couple of years, sales growth has been stuck in a 1-2% range, according to Retail Metrics president Ken Perkins.
It’s gotten so bad, Bloomberg’s Matt Townsend points out, that retailers are no longer just blaming poor sales on such catastrophes as “unseasonably mild spring weather” and are now adding the upcoming presidential election to their list of reasons why shoppers aren’t coming into their stores. Via internetretailer.com
E-commerce bets outside of Amazon
E-commerce sales during the holiday season are forecast to increase 17.2% this year to $94.71B, which represents a record 10.2% of all retail sales for the period.
The +17% growth also represents the fastest pace for holiday e-commerce sales since 2011.
Impressively, Amazon is expected to grow its holiday e-commerce market share above the 25% it took down last year. Via SeekingAlpha
4 Predictions for 2016 Holiday Shopping Season
Video content and free shipping will help to fuel growth in ecommerce sales overall and mobile commerce in particular during the 2016 holiday season, which starts now and runs through Christmas Eve.
Since 2013, I have been making a few holiday shopping season predictions for the ecommerce industry. These are not risky or provocative. They are estimates meant to remind us of the trends in our industry.
This time, two of my predictions (numbers 1 and 4) really have to do with marketing — one is an offer the other is a medium. The other two have to do with ecommerce sales growth. I have also included a recap to let you know how my predictions turned out last year. Via practicalecommerce.com
Mobile to Slow Growth for Ecommerce Holiday Spending
While mobile shopping continues to surge, with an estimate that 30% of all online purchases will happen through mobile phones, NetElixir predicts slower-than-usual online growth for sales this holiday season.
The company estimates about 11% year-over-year growth, down from about 13% in 2014 and 2015 and 10% in 2013. The numbers reflect growth among its clients.
In addition to the increase use of mobile devices, NetElixir attributes holiday purchases in July driven by Amazon Prime Day and copied by other large retailers. The report also points to a shift of Web site sales to marketplaces and election-year uncertainties.
The report suggests that Amazon will become the big winner in holiday sales. The marketplace’s share of total online holiday sales will grow by 28%, up from about 26% in 2015 and 22% in 2014, estimates NetElixir. Via mediapost.com
Tech Is Tops With Consumers For Holiday 2016
Tech is top of mind with consumers when it comes to holiday promotions.
According to a new report by shopping advice site BestBlackFriday.com, 40 % of Americans are “most interested in seeing deals” this holiday season for electronics, including TVs, computers, tablets and mobile phones, representing the largest product category.
CE was followed by clothing/apparel at 23 percent; toys/video games at 12%; appliances at 4%; and jewelry at 3 %. Via twice.com
Sears Fires First Promotional Volley of Holiday 2016
Sears is getting an early start on the holiday selling season — and looking to take consumers out of the market — with a three-hour promotional event this Sunday.
Its “Member Bonus event” guarantees the company’s Shop Your Way loyalty club members the lowest prices through Christmas Eve on select items in Sears stores. The discounts are part of a “Sears Days Lowest Prices Of The Season” sale that will run Oct. 20-Nov. 1, but will be previewed from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday evening.
Sears will automatically reimburse members the price difference in points, up to a hundred dollars’ worth, should any tagged item purchased during the three-hour window sell for less during the holiday season, including Black Friday. Via twice.com
Customers can now reserve online, try on in-store via Nordstrom’s mobile app | Retail Dive
Using Nordstrom’s iOS and Android apps, customers can now “Reserve & Try In Store.” The new app feature allows customers near its Western Washington store locations, including its Seattle flagship, to shop on their mobile device and set aside items to try on in the store, Geekwire reports.
Customers using the app can set a preferred store, browse items available in that specific store and then select “Reserve & Try” to confirm a time to come in and try on clothing.
Nordstrom allows up to 10 items to be reserved and notifies customers within two hours (during store operating hours) via text message when the items are ready to try on. The items are held on reserve until the store closes the following day. Via Retail Dive
Race is on for holiday help: Retailers hike pay, offer new perks in tighter labor market
This month, retailers are warming up for their main event of the year, the holiday months of November and December. Some of the key statistics heading into the holiday season:
The over-under: Retail groups and analysts are betting sales this year will beat the 3.2 percent growth merchants rang up last year. The National Retail Federation is forecasting a 3.6 percent increase, while Bain Capital analysts are predicting holiday sales could rise by up to 4 percent.
The star performer: Online sales are once again expected to outshine traditional stores in terms of growth, with e-commerce sales projected to once again have double-digit gains. Sales in traditional stores will still account for more than 80 percent of purchases. Via northjersey.com
What’s behind Amazon’s frantic hiring binge
Amazon announced Thursday that it’s hiring 120,000 seasonal workers. That’s the equivalent of hiring nearly every resident in Waco, Texas, or Charleston, South Carolina.
Each autumn, retailers and delivery services traditionally bulk up their staffs to prepare for the holiday shopping rush. This year, UPS will add 95,000 workers, Macy’s is bringing on 83,000 and Target 70,000. The past two years, Walmart has added 60,000. It hasn’t announced this year’s figures.
Amazon stands out for the rapid growth of its workforce. It’s hiring more than twice the number of seasonal workers it used only four years ago. Via kcra.com
More holiday sales reports ahead
We’ll have more holiday sales coverage in the weeks ahead. Watch for a report on mobile commerce on Wednesday. You can get Cashback Industry News in your inbox every M-W-F morning by subscribing at the top of the page. Join us for news you can use.