FINANCE

Holiday sales rise 3.8%; meet NRF expectations

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — Despite severe winter weather travails during the holiday shopping season, the National Retail Federation said Tuesday that December retail sales didn’t take the hit that many feared.

In fact, taking advantage of heavy promotions and last-minute deals, shoppers were able to move the December retail sales needle up 0.4% month-to-month, excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, and up 4.6% year-over-year.



Total holiday retail sales, which includes November and December sales, increased 3.8% to $601.8 billion, which was in line with NRF’s projected forecast of 3.9% and $602.1 billion. In addition, non-store holiday sales, which is an indicator of online and e-commerce sales, grew 9.3% to $95.7 billion.



Consumer confidence, retailers rose to the challenge and executed their strategies with proven success,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Today’s holiday sales numbers are a testament to a resilient industry that knows what their customers want, when they want it and how they want to get it. Considering that retail sales are an important barometer when measuring the overall health of our national economy, this report provides a level of true optimism that the recovery is picking up steam, and once again, retail leads the way.”

December retail sales, released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau, which include categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants, increased 0.2% seasonally adjusted month-to-month, and 4.1% adjusted year-over-year.

Other findings from the December retail sales report include:

• Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers stores’ sales decreased 0.4 % seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 4.2 % unadjusted year-over-year.



• Clothing and clothing accessories stores’ sales increased 1.8 % seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 4.7 % unadjusted year-over-year.


• Electronics and appliance stores’ sales decreased 2.5 % seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 1.5 % unadjusted year-over-year.


• Furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales decreased 0.4 % seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 5.0 % unadjusted year-over-year.



• General merchandise stores’ sales were flat seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and flat unadjusted year-over-year.



• Health and personal care stores’ sales increased 0.6 seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 5.9 % unadjusted year-over-year.



• Non-store retailers’ sales increased 1.4 % seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 14 % unadjusted year-over-year.



• Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores’ sales decreased 0.6 % seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 5.8 % unadjusted year-over-year.

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Retailers’ Facebook pages resonate more with consumers

BY CSA STAFF

Consumers engage with retailers on Facebook more than they do on the retailers’ own websites. Nine-in-10 consumers say how much they spend is impacted by their social media engagement with a brand. These are some of the findings of a study by Infosys, a leader in consulting, technology and outsourcing.

In addition to the impact of social media on spend, the “Rethinking Retail” study reveals how retailers are struggling to create the kind of consistent and personalized experience online and in stores that drives increased sales. Nearly two-thirds of consumers say that consistency plays a role in their tendency to spend with a brand (63%), while 34% say high consistency across a brand’s channels would mean a greater spend, while a lack of consistency results in a reduction in their spending (39%).

Other key findings of the report include:

  • Eighty-nine percent of those who interact with a retailer online through any social media outlet say that the interaction has an impact on their purchase.
  • Women are twice as likely as men to be influenced by Pinterest; YouTube influences twice as many men as women.
  • Only 2% of all people polled say that FourSquare has any influence on their purchase.
  • Though 62% of retailers reported that they offer personalized offers in store, only 20% of consumers report seeing ‘in-store only’ personalized offers. And 59% of consumers who have experienced personalization believe it has a noticeable influence on their spending.
  • Consumers are three times more likely to impulse-buy in a store than online.
  • Nearly all (96%) of consumers expect retailers to inform them of new products. Only 34% of retailers, however, can track consumer trends in real-time, reducing their ability to rollout appropriate offers which can drive sales.
  • Lack of technology is the most common factor (38%) preventing retailers from creating a more integrated customer experience within their organization.

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One time Walmart CEO joins Victory Electronic Cigarettes board

BY CSA STAFF

Victory Electronic Cigarettes announced that Bill Fields, former president and CEO of Walmart stores division, will join its board of directors.

"My decision to join Victory’s board was driven by a shared philosophy on how to win, Victory’s established and efficient infrastructure and the company’s experienced and proven management team," Fields said. "Ninety percent of the growth of e-cigarettes is in front of us as the segment continues to take share from the nearly $800 billion dollar tobacco category. I am confident our team will accelerate Victory’s efforts and that we will quickly become a leader within this industry."

Fields is currently chairman of Fields Texas, Four Courners Sourcing International, and a managing partner of Strategic Brands. During his extensive career with Walmart, he held many senior executive positions including assistant to Walmart’s founder, Sam Walton; SVP distribution and transportation; and EVP Walmart, which culminated in the role of president and CEO of the Walmart stores division. Fields retired from Walmart in 1996.

"We are extremely fortunate to have Bill join our board. His deep knowledge of the retail industry and leadership on our board of directors will be invaluable as we work towards our goal of building the leading electronic cigarette company in the world," Brent Willis, chairman and CEO Victory Electronic Cigarettes, said.

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