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Holiday 2011 Improvement Opportunities

09/26/2011

The Holiday 2011 selling season looms large for retailers across the USA. It is traditionally the weeks of the year where many retailers make the majority of their profits. That, of course, is where the term ‘Black Friday’ (the day after Thanksgiving) where many retailers go from being in the red and into the black.

A couple of factors to consider when assessing this year’s holiday season should be considered.

  1. Santa needs more helpers. Many retailers are planning to hire more employees – even if temporary for December 2011. In fact December 2011 may be the first increase in hiring since 2007. Even so the numbers are not great, with a hiring increase forecasted at +0.55 percent. And not all retailers are on board with this perspective. In fact there are signs that consumer spending is dipping right now – which is a time when last-minute staffing and marketing decisions begin to come together for retailers.
  2. Fuel for optimism? For the first time in months, retail gas prices have fallen below $3 a gallon. The stock market’s declines over the past two weeks have pushed the price of crude oil down. Falling gas prices leaves consumers with more money in their pockets for shopping, dining out and entertainment. According to economist Philip Verleger, a 50 cents-per-gallon drop in gasoline prices would add roughly $70 billion to the US economy.
While neither of these factors point to a sure-thing indicator about the holiday selling season, that’s ok. There’s no such thing as a sure thing in retail anyway. Even the best of plans can fall short for myriad of reasons.
I suspect consumers and retailers alike are looking for any  sign of encouragement after nearly 3 years of bad news. And what a perfect way to celebrate good news – by going shopping. Only in America!
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