BDO, which regularly measures the mood of retail executives, says that mobile strategies are finally toddling out of their infancy, and that 60% of retailers plan to maintain their investment in mobile in the year ahead, while 38% intend to pump it up.
The consulting company also says that while those in the C-suite are less optimistic than they were a year ago, they’re also less fearful of the “worst-case scenarios” that have been dogging them for several years.
Overall, the 100 CFOs polled say they are anticipating average sales growth of 3.2% in the year ahead, not nearly as hopeful as they were a year ago, when they forecast gains of 4.5%. And in terms of comparable-store sales growth, they’re expecting gains of 2.3%, down from the 4.1% they forecasted last year. In online sales, they’re looking for an average gain of 6.9%.
But only 7% expect sales to decline, a significantly lower number than a year ago, Doug Hart, partner in BDO’s retail and consumer products, tells Marketing Daily. “Perhaps because they are seeing an improvement in the housing market and the fiscal cliff has been averted, these CFOs are seeing less of a downside.”
Still, he says there are still big concerns about consumer confidence, as people are still getting used to 2013’s smaller paychecks, due to the expiration of the payroll tax cut. “Even though we expect that to subside soon as they get used to slightly smaller checks, it may still have an impact on sales, especially for stores catering to middle- and lower-income customers,” he says.
The survey also queried the CFOs on which marketing tactics were most and least effective for the holidays: One-third of CFOs cite email and social media promotions as the big winners for 2012; 16% named free shipping efforts. The big turkeys, however, were Thanksgiving efforts, with 41% saying those controversial extended hours were the season’s worst-performing efforts, and 22% citing Thanksgiving weekend promotions.
Mobile will continue to figure more prominently as retailers continue to wrestle with ways to convert those using smartphones and tablets for product research into actual sales, he says.
"Mobile Shopping photo from Shutterstock"