FINANCE

IBISWorld: Holiday sales to grow 3.3%

BY Marianne Wilson

Los Angeles — After a strong Black Friday and Cyber Monday, overall holiday spending is expected to increase 3.3% to $64.3 billion, according to the industry research firm IBISWorld.

During the six-week period from Nov. 1 through Dec. 25, lingering unemployment will keep holiday retail sales from hitting pre-recessionary levels, despite the decline in aggregate household debt. However, retailers can still expect an uptick across all holiday categories, IBISWorld predicted. Leading categories for gifts will be jewelry, which is slated to grow 7.1% to $4.7 billion, and electronics, which is forecast to increase 6.8% to $7.0 billion.

“The luxury market has led the economy in recovery, showing signs of growth throughout 2011,” said IBISWorld senior analyst Nikoleta Panteva. “The holidays are an especially appropriate time for consumers to purchase splurge-worthy items like jewelry for their loved ones.”

Electronics are expected to fare well this season due to the onslaught of new product introductions calling for gadget upgrades. And clothing purchases are expected to make a comeback this year, increasing 3.4% from 2010 to $8.5 billion. High-end, designer wear and children’s apparel are likely to lead the pack in sales growth, seeing that they were put on the backburner in the past few years.

Gift card sales will only increase by 2.8% this year from 2010, to $5.7 billion, due to consumers’ need for more personalized gifts, according to IBISWorld.

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OPERATIONS

Mint.com reveals cities with most Black Friday shopping activity

BY Marianne Wilson

San Francisco — The 15 cities with the most shopping activity on Black Friday 2011 were Manhattan, N.Y.; San Francisco; Los Angeles; Brooklyn, N.Y.; San Jose, Calif.; Seattle; Chicago; San Diego; Houston; Atlanta; Dallas; Saint Louis; Portland, Ore.; Austin, Texas; and Minneapolis, according to mint.com, an online personal finance site.

The 10 national merchants with the most shopping activity on Black Friday, mint.com reported, were Apple, Best Buy, Nordstrom, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Target, Wal-Mart, Gap, Old Navy and Amazon.

After comparing user spend from Black Friday 2011 to last year’s spend, Mint.com found that:

Atlanta, New York and Houston spent more on shopping this year: Mint.com users in each city spent almost 10% more on shopping transactions this year versus last.

Saint Louis spent less on shopping this year: Although Saint Louis was one of the cities the most shopping activity this Black Friday, Mint.com users spent 11% less on shopping transaction this year versus last

Apple per transaction spend dipped: While Apple had the highest per transaction spend this year, Mint.com users spent 22% less per Apple transaction this year versus last.

Macy’s per transaction spend rose: Mint.com users spent 11% more per Macy’s transaction this year versus last

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OPERATIONS

BDO USA survey details retailers’ holiday marketing spend

BY Marianne Wilson

Chicago — Despite all of the hype surrounding mobile commerce, just 36% of chief marketing officers at retail companies have included mobile in their holiday marketing strategies this year, according to a recent BDO USA survey. And of the CMOs incorporating mobile, 84% say it accounts for less than 10% of their holiday marketing efforts. The findings are from the most recent edition of the BDO Retail Compass Survey of CMOs, which examined the opinions of 100 chief marketing officers at leading retailers located throughout the country.

“Mobile marketing is still in the experimental stage, and flat holiday advertising budgets do not leave much room to test new waters,” said Steve Ferrara, partner in the Retail and Consumer Practice at BDO USA. “Still, mobile is hardly an afterthought for retailers. As consumers demand a more personal brand experience, we expect to see huge growth for mobile as it follows the same trajectory of the now-ubiquitous e-commerce channel.”

The survey also found despite the aggressive holiday advertisements that have already appeared, CMOs are not drastically adjusting their holiday spending. Sixty-five percent say their 2011 holiday marketing and advertising budget remains the same compared to last year.

In other findings:

  • Overall, 82% of CMOs made social networks a part of their marketing strategies this year – an increase from 2010 (75%) and 2009 (51%) and a dramatic shift from 2007 (4%). Social media sites hold even more promise for retailers at the top 100 largest retailers (12% of the sample), all of which say they make use of social media in their holiday marketing. On average, retailers devote 16% of their marketing efforts to social networking sites.
  • Following the move into e-commerce, Facebook is more appealing than ever to retailers. The vast majority (94%) of CMOs focus their social marketing efforts on Facebook. CMOs also report marketing via Twitter (47%), LinkedIn (12%), YouTube (11%) and Foursquare (8%).
  • Twitter may have lost popularity overall this year (down from 61% in 2010), but it remains an important site for CMOs at the top 100 largest retailers included in the sample. Sixty-seven percent of these CMOs include Twitter in their social marketing efforts.
  • This year, 27% of CMOs are spending the bulk of their holiday advertising and marketing budget on broadcast, a slight increase from 2010 (25%). While CMOs remain cautious, increased spending on a pricier medium signals they are trying to reach a larger audience in order to capture more sales this season. Forty-four percent of CMOs say they spend most of their holiday budgets on print advertising (up slightly from 42% in 2010), proving that the traditional medium is far from dead. Other budget allocations include online advertising (23%) and outdoor advertising including billboards (5%).
  • The majority of retailers are unsure of the benefits of flash sales (including group and daily deals). Only one-third say they make use of flash sales, while 67% have not yet included the strategy in their marketing efforts.

“Flash sales are an attractive marketing tool, but we’re seeing daily deal sites facing an identity crisis. The market is saturated, and retailers are not convinced that the strategy drives sales or creates loyal customers, “said Stephen Wyss, partner in the Retail and Consumer Practice.

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