An Early Look at the 2017 Holiday Season

xmas-dog 730x280.jpgYes, yes, I know we just published our look at back to school shopping a mere few weeks ago. But for retailers, it's never too early to start thinking about the holiday season. 

Below we take a look at what key analysts are predicting for the coming months.

Holiday sales will rise

2017 has been dubbed the year of the “Retail Apocalypse.”  Analysts everywhere (including us) have written about Black Friday’s declining cultural significance. Consumer confidence has waxed and waned. 

And yet, many experts are nevertheless bullish about 2017 holiday spending. According to eMarketer, total U.S. holiday e-commerce sales are forecasted to climb by 16.6% this year, and total holiday retail sales are predicted to rise by 3.1% year over year.

However, while sales are predicted to rise…

Total revenue will be (slightly) down

eMarketer is forecasting total 2017 holiday season spending of $923.15 billion, representing 18.4% of U.S. retail sales for the year, which is down by about 0.1% from last year. Still, that spend amounts to nearly 20% of all 2017 retail sales.

We might not see as many sales and discounts

Last year, brick-and-mortar retailers slashed prices from November through year’s end in an effort to lure shoppers away from online competitors. During the four-day Black Friday period in 2016, for example, the number of discounted items rose by 20% year over year and the average price reduction was 44% compared with 36% in 2015.

No one is predicting Black Friday deals to disappear overnight. Yet, deep discounts only work for retailers if they can make it up in volume. With foot traffic down 12.3% in November and December 2016 and continuing to decline by 6% on average the past four quarters —retailers know they have to get crafty with thier assortments, in-store experiences, return policies, and ship-from-store capabilities. 

Cyber Monday will make way for Cyber November

The idea of Cyber Monday—just one, single day dedicated to e-commerce sales—is already becoming an antiquated notion. 

According to Multichannel Merchant:

“November holds three major global shopping events: Singles Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. Regarding the last two, it’s likely that in future they will merge to form the ultimate online shopping discount month. Instead of having the two separate shopping days, it’s very possible that we’ll head more towards a sort of ‘Cyber November’, with an increasing number of people preferring to take advantage of the sales online.”

It’s already happening. Last year, Amazon’s Black Friday deals lasted for an incredible 35 days.

In-store experience will continue to rise in importance

According to an Accenture Interactive study, “56% of consumers are more likely to shop at a retailer in store or online that recognizes them by name.”

So, could this be the way brick-and-mortar retailers compete this coming holiday season?  Not by further slashing prices but by creating a more personalized in-store experience?  It looks like it will certainly help entice millennials.

According to Retail Dive:

“Half of millennials (especially younger ones) prefer shopping in physical stores to shopping online. But a whopping 70% are comfortable with retailers tracking their digital purchasing and browsing behaviors if it means they’ll receive more relevant communication. 74% of this age group say they’re frustrated with too many marketing communications, and 70% are frustrated by brands sending irrelevant emails. That group prefers to receive personalized emails offering specific information, like sale notifications for previously carted items, sale notifications for previously browsed items, or categories and recommended products based on their interests.”

So, in other words, less emails with their name on it, and more individualized in-store attention.

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Topics: holidays, shopping trends, ship-from-store, store assortment

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