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Deloitte: Holiday Sales Could Grow 4.5%

Deloitte, in its annual holiday forecast, said it expects a 4% to 4.5% increase in November through January sales, excluding motor vehicles and gasoline, versus the 2012 season. The market research firm’s Retail & Distribution practice reported that its data suggests an advance in holiday sales to between $963 and $967 billion.

The growth expectation is in line with last year’s 4.5% sales gain, Deloitte pointed out.

“Rising home prices with steady job creation may buoy consumers’ confidence in the economy and create a wealth effect,” Daniel Bachman, Deloitte’s senior economist covering the United States, said as part of the forecast announcement. “The debt ceiling and budget debate will resume this fall alongside uncertainty about the implementation of health care reform, which may cause some concern among consumers, but at a macro level, these factors are unlikely to have a significant effect on the economy and retail sales.”

With e-commerce gaining, Deloitte forecasts a 12.5% to 13% increase in non-store sales, with almost three-quarters of the non-store sales coming from the online channel. Additional sales arise from catalogs and interactive TV, Deloitte noted.

“We anticipate non-store sales growth will continue to surpass overall retail sales growth,” said Alison Paul, vp/Deloitte LLP and Retail & Distribution sector leader. “Additionally, shoppers researching their purchases electronically_ via their PC, tablet or mobile phone_ are increasingly influencing in-store sales, particularly as we see greater integration across retailers’ store, online and mobile channels. More retailers are offering services such as ‘buy online and pick up in store,’ as well as inventory from other locations and price matching on the spot. The store is still a core element of holiday shopping and retailers leading the way this season will be those that effectively bring together their pricing, promotions, merchandise and inventory management across both their physical and digital storefronts.”

Deloitte related that mobile-influenced retail store sales will likely account for 8%, or $66 billion, in retail store revenue this holiday season, driven by consumer smartphone-based product research, price comparison and mobile application use.

“Retailers now realize how to engage shoppers through their mobile devices both inside and outside the store, which is having a profound impact on customer interaction, store traffic and conversion rates,” Paul said. “Consumers using their smartphones are more likely to make a purchase compared with other shoppers in the store, indicating that these activities are contributing to sales and keeping a shopper from turning to a competitor, contrary to the concern that ‘showrooming’ and price checking could negatively affect sales.”

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