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Is It Too Soon To Worry About Holiday Sales?

10/22/2013

Screen shot 2013-10-22 at 6.53.22 AMIt’s early but I’m worried.

The calendar says October, but retailers and economists are already analyzing the holiday shopping season. With budget battles in Washington dominating the media and an economy that’s still recovering, there are mixed feelings about how far shoppers will open their wallets.

I’m in the camp that believes holiday retail sales for 2013 will be fair. Not jump off the ledge poor but certainly not go-go great.

Coming off of a weak back-to-school shopping period holiday sales growth will be slower this year during the crucial holiday season. Shoppers are also expected to visit fewer stores as they research purchases online.

Retail revenue in November and December should rise 2.4% during the biggest shopping period of the year, Chicago-based research firm ShopperTrak stated last week. That compares with a 3% increase in 2012 from 2011.

As if the economy isn’t enough to put a lump of coal in holiday shopping – the calendar has conspired against retailers as well.

This year there’s a shorter shopping window between Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving, which is usually the biggest shopping day of the year — and Christmas. Last year there were 32 days during the period and this year there are 25.

Weekends are the busiest shopping period within that time frame. There are four weekends this year compared with five last year. Because of that, watch for stores to bring out their promotions and services like layaway early — Toys R Us and Wal-Mart  have both already announced their layaway plans.

If you’re a retailer or a marketer it’s show time. Plans laid months ago should be in go-mode. Your product has to be right…not close, but PERFECT! Your online presence is more important than ever before as the shift to mobile commerce is no longer the subject of bloggers like me…it is now the stuff of reality.

We’ll check in after Black Friday. But just to be safe, I’d recommend staying away from high places.

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