Kantar Retail: Holiday forecast mixed
Columbus, Ohio Retail sales for the fourth quarter holiday period will be significantly better than a year ago, according to Kantar Retail. However, the holiday will feel weak, compared with the relatively strong pace of retail sales growth in the first three quarters — a pace inflated temporarily by economic stimulus and pent-up demand.
Kantar Retail forecasts growth of 2.5% — compared with 0.5% growth in 2009 — for the holiday fourth quarter in the key holiday retail segments combined. (The holiday segments represent all retailing except the auto, food and drug channels.)
“Prices and uncertainty will weigh heavily on the holiday outlook,” said Frank Badillo, senior economist for Kantar Retail. “Ongoing price competition among retailers, led by Walmart, is more likely to take a toll on sales gains than boost unit demand among shoppers who remain value conscious.”
Kantar expects shopper demand to remain modest as job and income gains remain constrained by reluctance among firms to invest and hire amid an uncertain outlook. The firm projects that small-format value retailers, including dollar stores, will rank among the strongest holiday performers.
The uncertain environment is also weighing on holiday spending intentions, according to Kantar Retail’s ShopperScape survey.
“ShopperScape results indicate that cautious shoppers who are hanging onto deal-seeking tactics from the recession and are still cautious about spending create a backdrop for a highly promotional holiday season,” comments Mandy Putnam, VP, Kantar Retail and director of ShopperScape. “Getting shoppers to loosen the clench on their wallets will largely depend on how well retailers align promotions to when and where key shopper groups are shopping this holiday season.”
The soft sales growth Kantar Retail expects should continue into the first half of 2011.This does not, however, portend an economy slipping into a double dip recession. The softness reflects the tough prior-year comparison periods that will make it difficult to generate strong year-to-year growth –particularly for homegoods retailers.
Target announces literacy initiatives
MINNEAPOLIS – Target announced its plans to donate more than $500 million by the end of 2015 to support education, doubling its support to-date, for a total of more than $1 billion. The financial commitment is part of Target’s new reading initiative, Target Read With Me, aimed at helping more U.S. children read proficiently by the end of third grade, the company reported.
"Target’s ties to education run deep, but we are compelled to do more to address the education crisis in the United States and put more kids on the path to graduation so they are ready for college, a career and life. The time to act is now, and it starts by reading with a child," said Laysha Ward, president of community relations, Target. "Our reading pledge is the first of many steps Target will take to ensure our kids are globally competitive. We need every parent and caring adult to join us in creating a movement that will chart a new course in education and help our children succeed."
Target said it will encourage parents, caring adults and its more than 350,000 team members to take action by visiting Target.com/reading, where they can pledge to commit to a regular reading schedule with a child. The pledge also can be accessed via mobile Web browsing or by texting "READ" to TARGET (827438).
In addition, Target said it will donate 1 million books to mark the beginning of its Target Read With Me initiative and up to an additional 1 million books once 1 million reading pledges have been received.
Target also announced plans to launch a reading center of excellence that will have a physical and virtual presence. The physical center will be located in Target’s headquarters market of Minneapolis-St. Paul, where nearly half of third-grade students do not read at a proficient level, according to the company. The center will serve to support and share innovative solutions and best practices in reading, Target reported. The virtual aspect of Target’s reading center will ensure kids, parents and caring adults have access to interactive tools and reading resources, regardless of their location.