A national group says retailers should plan for a good holiday season — not a blow-out — with sales during November and December increasing by 3.8 percent to 4.2 percent over 2018, to a total of between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion. The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, and track closely with an average holiday sales increase of 3.7 percent over the past five years.
NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay added that, while the group is planning for another growth year, the current political climate and factors such as uncertainty surrounding tariffs appear to be taking a toll, making some consumers a bit more skittish.
“The U.S. economy is continuing to grow and consumer spending is still the primary engine behind that growth,” Shay said. “Nonetheless, there has clearly been a slowdown brought on by considerable uncertainty around issues including trade, interest rates, global risk factors and political rhetoric. Consumers are in good financial shape and retailers expect a strong holiday season. However, confidence could be eroded by continued deterioration of these and other variables.”
Other highlights from the group’s report:
Online Shopping Gains. NRF expects online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, to increase between 11 percent and 14 percent to between $162.6 billion and $166.9 billion.
Hiring Trends. NRF expects retailers to hire between 530,000 and 590,000 temporary workers, which compares with 554,000 in 2018.
Tariff Worries. “The effect of tariffs on holiday spending — either directly or through consumer confidence — remains to be seen,” NRF reported. “Retailers are using a myriad of mitigation tactics to limit the impact on consumers, and the impact will ultimately vary by company and product. Small businesses, in particular, have already been forced to raise prices. Nonetheless, 79 percent of consumers surveyed for NRF in September were concerned that tariffs will cause prices to rise, potentially affecting their approach to shopping.”
The Society of American Florists surveyed its members earlier this year on their overall expectations for 2019. Review results from that survey.
Mary Westbrook is the editor in chief of Floral Management magazine