The Best Gift for the Economy: More Time for Shopping and Shipping
Although you may still be polishing off Halloween candy, walk into almost any retail store and the holidays will hit you in the face—ornaments, gift suggestions, bold advertisements reminding you to shop early for the lowest prices. Retailers will likely pull out all the stops this year, especially since shoppers have 32 days to purchase and send gifts—the maximum—between Black Friday and Christmas.
Despite the “fiscal cliff” uncertainty, retail sales have been progressing at a pace close to the same time last year. With the election now behind us, recent improvements in consumer confidence and sentiment will likely extend the positive momentum in consumer spending into the holiday season.
Early indications show that holiday sales should grow between three and four percent. ShopperTrak predicts national retail sales for November and December will rise 3.3 percent over last year. The International Council of Shopping
Centers forecasts a three percent sales increase, and the National Retail Federation is looking at a 4.1 percent increase during the holiday shopping season, bringing the spending total to $586 billion. Another positive sign–major retailers say seasonal hiring should rise modestly this year, although seasonal employment still remains below pre-recession levels.
The news is also good for FedEx, which expects to have its busiest day ever on Monday, December 10, when it moves a projected 19 million shipments through its global ground, express and freight networks. The number marks a 10 percent year-over-year spike for the company, and is retail-driven, with goods such as personal electronics, apparel, luxury goods and items from large internet retailers accounting for holiday shipping volumes.
As I mentioned in a previous post, “e-tail” is thriving globally at three to four times the rate of traditional retail buying in brick and mortar stores. The group, eMarketer, estimates online holiday sales will rise 16.8 percent year-over-year, up from 16.5 percent growth in 2011. We expect that within 10-15 years, e-tail will reach well over 50 percent (possibly closer to 70-80 percent) of all retail activity that doesn’t require you to physically be in a location. Even for those activities where your physical presence is required, like dining out or getting your hair cut, the e-channel will help drive traffic.
The “e-tail” phenomenon is not only beneficial to many shoppers who can save time and money with cheaper online deals, but it’s also good for companies like FedEx that turn a shipping profit whether an item is purchased or returned.
Happy shopping and shipping!