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Deloitte forecasts 2.5% to 3% increase in holiday sales

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — Retailers should expect small gains in 2011 holiday sales, Deloitte forecast on Monday. The company’s retail & distribution practice expects total holiday sales to reach between $873 and $877 billion, representing a 2.5 to 3% increase over last season.

"Consumer spending was on the rise for several months despite dampened confidence in the economy among U.S. households," said Carl Steidtmann, Deloitte’s chief economist. "Those earlier gains have begun to flatten and may be tempered by persistent weakness in the housing and employment sectors and pressures from the European debt crisis. Despite some relief in energy prices, consumers may feel the strain from food, apparel and other categories where prices are markedly higher compared to the previous holiday season. Additionally, retailers will face tougher comparisons this year after last year’s substantial increase in holiday sales."

Additionally, Deloitte forecasts a 14% increase in non-store sales, with nearly three-quarters of the sales resulting from the online channel with additional sales coming from catalogs and interactive TV.

"Double-digit growth in the non-store channel has given the industry a major boost, and retailers that put online channels to work for their physical storefronts have the advantage," said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and U.S. retail & distribution sector leader.

Paul noted that the brick-and-mortar store is still central to the shopper experience.

“Retailers that integrate the power of the sensory experience in-store with relevant, timely information via their websites and mobile applications are well-positioned to lead the way this holiday season,” she said.

While economic events have the potential to soften consumer spending this season, businesses are already operating at lean and efficient levels and positioning themselves to weather a period of slow growth, according to Paul. But she warned that retailers should be prepared with contingency plans.

"Retailers need to be nimble enough to quickly adapt and adjust their inventory, assortment, pricing and promotional strategies when consumer demand fluctuates,” Paul said.

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BJ’s picnics raise breast cancer awareness

BY CSA STAFF

WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — BJ’s Wholesale Club announced that it is partnering with 13 of the country’s leading cancer centers to host picnic luncheons to educate guests about breast cancer. This is the sixth year BJ’s is hosting these "Pink Picnic" events, which will feature a doctor or specialist from a partner hospital and an inspirational speaker, who will share her experience with the disease, the company reported.

During the event, cancer survivors will be invited to share their stories. Additionally, all attendees will receive special gift bags.

"Many members of the BJ’s Wholesale Club family have battled breast cancer or had a family member go through it; so it’s an honor to hold the ‘Pink Picnic’ events to raise awareness and money that will go to the life-saving work being done at these cancer centers," said Jessica Newman, manager of community relations.

In addition to hosting the Pink Picnics this October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month, BJ’s Wholesale Club will sell "Pink Ribbon" Club merchandise. As in years past, funds will be raised through this specially marked merchandise sold at all BJ’s Wholesale Clubs and donated to 13 NCI-designated Cancer Centers.

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A tree grows with Ikea

BY CSA STAFF

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. — Ikea announced that on Oct. 1, its U.S. stores will give away free tree seedlings through its partnership with American Forests. Ikea has been partnering with American Forests since 1998, and through their "Plant a Tree" campaign, they have raised $1.9 million dollars to plant 1.9 million trees.

Additionally on Oct. 1, as part of the recently launched Life Improvement Project, Ikea said it will be giving away more free seedlings at “surprise locations” in local communities. This is the first of several “Random Acts of Life Improvement” throughout the year, during which Ikea will be surprising consumers with small tokens of appreciation to help improve their day. The public can follow their closest Ikea store’s Twitter handle to get clues about where the giveaway will take place in their city.

“Thanks to American Forests and Ikea U.S. customers, we are celebrating the planting of 1.9 million trees across America. Ikea U.S. continues to showcase its deep commitment to climate change and our quality of life by keeping the environment clean and green. Each tree makes a difference and 1.9 million trees planted will help to reduce CO2 pollution, while renewing America’s forests,” said Mike Ward, president of Ikea U.S.

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