The holiday shopping season is just around the corner, and that means retail businesses need to be prepared for the rush of holiday shoppers likely to descend on stores after Turkey Day.
Stay up on the latest trends so you can deliver on consumer expectations during this important shopping season.
While 2018 holiday sales increased by 2.1 percent over 2017, the National Retail Federation forecasts that spending will grow 3.8 to 4.2 percent this year. Deloitte forecasts even larger growth between 4.5 and 5 percent and expects holiday sales to exceed $1.1 trillion during the November to January timeframe. Still, spending on certain items, such as apparel, footwear, and televisions, may take a hit due to recently implemented tariffs. The NRF found that 79 percent of consumers showed concern about the tariffs causing prices to rise, which indicates it may impact how they shop.
“Consumer spending should exhibit a modest increase in 2019 relative to 2018,” said Anthony Valeri, Investment Management Director of Wealth and Fiduciary Services at California Bank & Trust. “Consumer confidence remains near an all-time high and the job market remains strong with the unemployment rate hovering just 0.1 percent above an all-time low. Consumers remain resilient despite trade war concerns and political uncertainty.”
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When it comes to online sales, this holiday season may be substantially bigger than last year. Deloitte forecasts that e-commerce sales will grow by 14 to 18 percent, compared to an increase of 11.2 percent in 2018. The accounting and professional services firm projects that e-commerce holiday sales will reach between $144 and $149 billion this year.
While the convenience of online shopping has long been an advantage for businesses, it looks like may be the biggest success factor to consider this year. According to PwC's 2019 Holiday Outlook, a phenomenal online shopping experience is precisely what consumers want this holiday season. Two-thirds of shoppers explicitly say they want "easily accessible, convenient shopping above all else." PwC concluded that "digital enablement" is essential for customer convenience. In other words, customer data, inventory, payment and logistics need to work together to meet customer expectations no matter how they choose to order, pay and receive their items.
Seasonal hiring is expected to grow by at least 530,000, according to the NRF, which forecasts that it may reach as many as 590,000 temporary workers, compared to 554,000 in 2018.
Support among shoppers for local retailers remains strong. A majority say they are likely to do some holiday shopping at nearby brick and mortar stores. According to SCORE, 90 percent of Americans shop at a small business at least once each week to support the local community; find unique, customized gifts; and save on gasoline or shipping costs. Again, the key factor appears to be providing a seamless, convenient approach so that shoppers can buy the way they prefer.
Small Business Tips:
The holiday shopping season is a bit shorter this year with Thanksgiving falling on November 28. That means business owners have roughly a week longer to prepare, but a week less to capture prime-time holiday sales.
Are you ready for the holiday shopping season? Ask your banker about the latest in point-of-sale payment solutions and other tools designed for greater business efficiencies and productivity.[cite::171::cite] [cite::172::cite]