Well, maybe not bad news altogether, but analysts are estimating that this coming Christmas shopping season will have less gains than in 2012 or even recent years. A slow recovery and a sluggish jobs market are to blame for the poor expectations, this in a new report released by ShopperTrak.
Forecasts for holiday sales show just a 2.4 percent increase over last year. These are the key shopping months of November and December. Last year realized gains of 3 percent over the year before, 4 percent gains for the year before that.
While higher spending might be the call of the day, foot traffic itself is expected to fall by 1.4 percent when compared to last year. Traffic was actually up in 2012 by 2.5 percent, this after falling by 3.1 percent the year before. A decrease in foot traffic coupled with an increased revenue gives credence to the notion that while lower-income wage earners are earning even less, higher-income families have stayed the same or even increased their incomes.
“Although the economy continues to recover slowly, consumers remain cautious about spending and are not ready to splurge,” says ShopperTrak Founder Bill Martin.
Among those Christmas items that are expected to see declines: toys, jewelry, clothes, and especially electronics. Electronics are seeing no new releases this year, at least nothing to write home about. While Apple did release two new version of its popular iPhone, still they are only updated versions of last year’s product.
Estimates by ShopperTrak cover only those sales made at physical store locations. Online sales, which now account for as much as 7 percent of all holiday sales, were not included. Online sales are the fastest growing type and are expected to rise again this year.
So what does this mean for you, the consumer? It means another shopping season filled with discounts and savings as each retailer vies for your shopping dollar. Last year it meant starting sales early, and even great layaway plans like at Walmart.
In fact, Walmart says it started slashing toy prices already, this as it tries to lure in early shoppers and extend the overall Christmas shopping season. Kmart even already aired its first Christmas sales TV ad.