Yes. Yes. I know.
It’s mid-October. It seems premature. The nutmeg has barely settled upon your pumpkin spice latte. The J.Crew fall flannels have just made their glorious return to the center of your closet. And the glut of “original” Ken Bone and Harambe Halloween costumes are still a few weeks away. It’s hardly even Fall!And yet, it’s time to talk about the holiday season.
With a little more than two months left until Christmas, numerous industry experts, publications, and talking heads have begun offering their predictions for the coming season. I suppose they’ve moved on from the election.
Here’s what they’re saying:
Retail will grow!
The general consensus among these three is that retail shopping will grow over the coming holiday season by about 3-4 percent.
“This year hasn’t been perfect, starting with a long summer and unseasonably warm fall, but our forecast reflects the very realistic steady momentum of the economy and industry expectations,” said The National Retail Federation (NRF) President and CEO Matthew Shay in a statement.
NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz added, “Consumers have seen steady job and income gains throughout the year, resulting in continued confidence and the greater use of credit, which bodes well for more spending throughout the holiday season.”
Keep in mind though, NRF has been wrong before—such as last four years. In 2015, they predicted holiday retail growth to come in at around 3.7 percent. In reality, it turned out to be closer to three. That’s not bad, but when we’re talking razor-thin margins, being off by one percent isn’t exactly good either.
Most optimistic is PricewaterhouseCoopers. They’ve predicted a 10 percent year-over-year growth. Here’s hoping!
Retail won’t grow!
So far no major analyst has come out and directly said retail won’t grow—or worse decline. They’re just a little less bullish than their colleagues. The largest dissenting voice was Internet Retailer, who wrote last week that there’s a big disconnect between retail predictions and consumer sentiment.
“The downbeat results are at odds with some overwhelmingly rosy predictions for the upcoming holiday season, a critical time that can account for anywhere from 10-30% of a retailer's sales for the whole year.
The National Retail Federation, which has overshot predictions for the past four years, said last week it expected a 3.6% year-over-year increase in total sales during the months of November and December, with 7-10% gains in nonstore sales (mostly online but including sales by catalog and phone).”
Well, e-commerce will grow!
Then there are the number of talking heads who believe that while retail on the whole will be up, the majority of the increased spending will originate from e-commerce. Predictions as to why, vary.
Some believe it’s a shifting preference away from traditional brick-and-mortar events such as Black Friday towards online-only events like Cyber Monday. Others believe it is due to the continued rise of mobile shopping. Still others contend it’s because of declining store traffic.
Everything is doomed because of the election!
Who thinks so: Pretty much every retail publication that’s published an article in the last two months. We covered that already.
The truth is, there’s a million predictions out there. They can’t all be right. We’ll just have to wait and see.