Retail sales during the winter holiday season represents an indicator of economic activity and consumer sentiment. The National Retail Federation (NRF) reported that 154 million shoppers were out shopping in the stores or online during the kickoff holiday weekend, more than the 151.4 million shoppers last year. Nationally, consumers averaged $289 a shopper down slightly from last year.
Black Friday and Saturday, the first two holiday shopping days after Thanksgiving, have been dubbed thus because they represent the days when most retailers traditionally move the bottom line from red.
Different methods are used by each forecaster to predict holiday sales but all of them have predicted an increase this year. The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts an increase of 3.6 percent in holiday sales to $655.8 billion. The Deloitte Annual Holiday Survey forecasts an increase of 3.6 to 4.0 percent while the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) forecasts a 3.3 percent increase. ComScore Inc. is predicting a happy holiday sales season for U.S. web retailers with a forecast of a 12% increase this holiday online shopping season.
According the NRF, Millennials (ages 18 – 34) continue to drive the increase in shopping during Thanksgiving Weekend. Eight in 10 shopped over the weekend, of which 25-34-year olds shopped the most in store (56%) and online (62%). Over half of all consumers of all ages shopped at Department Stores over the Black Friday weekend.
2016 Types of Stores Shopped Black Friday Weekend
Deloitte’s survey shows that 46% of consumers plan to purchase gifts for themselves, down by 4% from last year. The survey also shows that three-fourths of shoppers surveyed plan to spend more than 2015. Almost nine in ten shoppers will research products online before purchasing in a physical store. Almost half of purchases will be purchased online this Holiday Season with 35% purchased by personal computer, 7% by Smart phone and 5% by Tablet. Seven in ten say they will take advantage of free shipping while shopping online.
Black Friday Gifts Purchased
*The sum of the totals may be greater than 100 percent because the respondents can choose more than one answer.
Still, consumer sentiment toward buying, along with economic and weather conditions, will play a large role in the overall results of retail spending this year. The accuracy of the analysts' predictions will remain to be seen as the holiday season continues.
Sources: International Council of Shopping Centers, National Retail Federation, Prosper Insight Analytics, Deloitte & Touche USA LLP, cnn.com and comScore, INC.