Retailers should expect a modest increase in 2012 holiday sales, about 3.5 percent to 4 percent increase over last year, according to a recent Deloitte forecast. Deloitte’s retail & distribution practice expects total holiday sales to climb to between $920 and $925 billion in November through January holiday sales (excluding motor vehicles and gasoline) over last season. This growth rate is below last year’s 5.9 percent gain. Additionally, Deloitte forecasts a 15 to 17 percent increase in non-store sales.
“Economic headwinds nagging consumers this fall include stubbornly high gasoline prices that continue to creep up and soft housing and job markets,” says Carl Steidtmann, Deloitte’s Chief Economist.
“While consumers turned out in the summer to give retailers solid gains for a few months, that pace may be difficult to sustain through the end of the year. Consumers and businesses alike may pause in advance of the election; however, retailers may benefit from a post-election consumer spending boost.”
Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and retail & distribution sector leader, says this season, retailers’ most lucrative customers may be the ones they engage across physical and virtual storefronts. “Non-store sales continue to outpace overall growth, but increasingly influence consumers’ experience with the retail store, from trip planning, to in-store product research, and post-purchase reviews and sharing,” she says.
Paul noted that consumers might also consolidate or reduce trips to the store in response to higher gas prices. Meanwhile, Paul says she anticipates that retailers will come to the starting gate with “true omni-channel pricing strategies, as opposed to disparate or reactionary strategies” of the past.
“Consumers should see more price transparency across mobile, online and store channels, and retailers will use these same channels to gain insights into their core customers’ behavior. Retailers that interpret and respond to real-time information about shoppers can hit the right notes on pricing and promotions that drive traffic without eroding margins.”
Deloitte also anticipates that mobile-influenced retail store sales will account for 5 percent, or $36 billion, in retail store sales this year, driven by consumers’ store-related smartphone activity.
“Retailers that welcome the smart phone shopper in their stores with mobile applications and wi-fi access—rather than fear the showrooming effect— can be better positioned to accelerate their in-store sales this holiday season,” says Paul. Deloitte research indicates that shoppers with smartphones are 14 percent more likely to make a purchase in the store than those who do not use a smartphone as part of their in-store journey.