Economists are forecasting a good holiday shopping season for retailers this year. The traditional shopping season begins on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Most retailers have plans for midnight openings on Black Friday and are already offering pre-holiday sales.
“Retailers are optimistic that a combination of strong promotions and lean inventory levels will help them address consumer caution this holiday season,” National Retail Federation President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Shay said in a release. “While businesses remain concerned over the viability of the economic recovery, there is no doubt that the retail industry is in a better position this year to handle consumer uncertainty than it was in 2008 and 2009.”
The National Retail Federation is predicting a 2.8% increase from 2010 results to $465.6 billion better than the anemic growth of recent years. ShopperTrak predicts a 2.2% increase in sales from last year while the Purdue University Retail Institute predicts sales will increase 2 to 4%.
The National Retail Federation estimates retailers, who have added 100,000 jobs since August, will hire 480,000-500,000 seasonal workers, comparable to the 495,000 hired last year. A CareerBuilder survey was not quite as optimistic, predicting 29% of retailers will add temporary help.
“Just when you think the U.S. economy is turning around, another factor comes into play that changes the game,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Persistently high unemployment, an erratic stock market, modest income growth and rising consumer prices are all combining to impact spending this holiday season. How Americans will react to shaky economic data is the question, but the good news for retailers is that shoppers have not yet thrown in the towel.”
In a recent survey, 59.9% of the 8,585 people polled Oct. 4-11 said they planned to take advantage of holiday sales and discounts on non-gift purchases for themselves and their families. The Shop.org eHoliday survey indicates online sales will do better than brick-and-mortar stores. The survey also predicted a 15% increase compared to last year, with consumers planning to do 36% of their shopping online, compared to 32.7% in 2010.