FINANCE

Retailers expect 3.1% jump in Black Friday sales

BY Dan Berthiaume

Chicago — Retailers anticipate a 3.1% increase in sales on Black Friday this year, mirroring their projections from last year. However, a new a survey of top retail chief marketing officers by BDO USA shows that retailers have moderated their expectations for growth in Cyber Monday sales, predicting that sales will grow by 3.7% this year, down slightly from last year’s sunnier 4.3% growth projection.

Only 13% of retailers plan to begin their holiday promotions ahead of Black Friday, fewer than the proportion who don’t have any promotions lined up at all (16%) and equal to the proportion that plan to concentrate their promotions over the Thanksgiving weekend. And, further highlighting the decreasing emphasis on Thanksgiving weekend, half say they will spread their promotions evenly throughout the season. Regardless of timing, consumers can expect to see a growing number of discounts this holiday season: A majority of CMOs (63%) anticipate more deals this year.

Meanwhile, a plurality (47%) of CMOs plan to focus the majority of their promotions in-store, a 15% increase from last year, outpacing those who hope to focus online (13%) or equally across channels (39%). However, consumers can expect to see a broader variety of promotions to get them in stores. Last year, 66% of CMOs pointed to exclusive in-store deals as their favored tactic; this year, that number declined to 38%. Meanwhile, the percentage of CMOs citing exclusive in-store brands and partnerships doubled this year, and the proportion of retailers citing extended hours tripled.

Furthermore, free shipping remains a top online sales trigger for retailers, with a plurality (38%) citing it as their preferred online promotional tactic. However, retailers are increasingly turning to social media to drive sales. This year, 20% of CMOs cite social media promotions as a top tactic, a 43% increase since last year and a doubling since 2009. Simultaneously, e-mail promotions were cited by only 20%, down from 31% last year. E-mail is becoming an increasingly difficult way to get in front of consumers as providers, such as Gmail, begin to filter promotional emails out of users’ primary inboxes.

“Retailers understand that consumers are no longer limiting their shopping just to Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” says Ted Vaughan, partner with the Retail & Consumer Products practice at BDO. “Though they remain important shopping days, retailers feel less pressure to post major sales gains on these two days alone, and instead are focusing on offering a compelling experience for shoppers throughout the season.”

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Gap launches omni-channel holiday marketing campaign

BY Dan Berthiaume

San Francisco — Gap’s new global marketing campaign, "Make Love,” includes print, outdoor, direct mail, social and cinema, as well as new digital content daily.

The "Make Love" campaign includes 26 days of curated gift ideas through a partnership with VSCO, makers of the photo editing app, VSCOcam, and some of their photographers at Gap.vsco.co. Available in 45 countries at Gap.com/gift-guide starting Nov. 18, the #giveatoz gift guide includes a series of personal photo essays by the photographers who interpret Gap’s favorite holiday products, iconic patterns, and fabrications from their own unique perspectives. Other features include a series of short films showcasing high school students performing with singer Tony Bennett.

"For a few short weeks during the holidays, we become conscious of what matters most to us. It’s a time when moments turn into memories, experiences become traditions, and gifts become sentimental reminders that we’ll cherish for years to come," said Seth Farbman, Gap’s global chief marketing officer. "Make Love is about giving love through action, whether it’s a service to others or a gift that’s a representation of love."

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FINANCE

Study: October non-cash consumer spending growth rises from September

BY Dan Berthiaume

Atlanta — Dollar volume growth in credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT, closed-loop prepaid cards and checks at U.S. merchant locations in October 2013 was 6.8%, an uptick from the prior month’s growth of 5.3%. First Data Corporation’s First Data SpendTrend analysis shows the growth was supported by the onset of cooler temperatures, which drove sales of seasonal merchandise and early holiday advertising attracting shopper foot-traffic.

The year-over-year gas price discount continued to widen. This negatively impacted overall spending growth. Gas station dollar volume growth was -4.9% in October, the lowest growth seen since April 2013. However, strong growth in categories such as food services and drinking places and leisure, which saw growth of 7.8% and 9.9% helped offset some of that negative growth.

Retail dollar volume growth in October jumped to 5.6% compared to September’s 3.6% growth. Retail spending growth accelerated toward the end of the month as the government shutdown ended and shoppers regained confidence. All retail sub-categories saw positive year-over-year dollar volume growth.

Average ticket growth was 0.5% in October, up from September’s growth of -0.2%. The slowdown in gas station average tickets continued to offset the overall growth. Gas station average ticket growth of -7.9% marked a twelve-month low. However, retail average ticket growth jumped to 1.8% from last month’s growth of 0.8% as discounting activity by retailers eased. Retailers focused on profits in October, as this period is an opportunity to plump up profits between the back-to-school and holiday seasons; periods where retailers may be forced to cut prices to win customers.

“Consumer spending growth gained momentum in October, which should provide retailers with an optimistic outlook heading into the holiday season”, said Krish Mantripragada, senior VP, information and analytics solutions, First Data. “Retailers should expect holiday spending to be modestly stronger compared to last year barring any number of external events that could negatively impact sales such as poor weather or geopolitical events at home or abroad.”

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