A new holiday spending forecast from Deloitte predicts a 2.5 to 3% gain this holiday season, with November through January retail sales expected to reach between $873 and $877 billion. Last year, sales grew 5.9%.
"And while 3% is nothing to celebrate, if you just looked straight out at the facts, you might come up with a lower forecast," Alison Paul, vice chairman of Deloitte LLP and U.S. retail and distribution sector leader, tells Marketing Daily. "But if past is prelude, the consumer continues to surprise up by being fairly resilient, and retailers keep finding new ways to draw people into stores. People may not be buying second homes or speedboats, but they are giving themselves little rewards and self gifting. They're saying: 'The hell with it, life is too short. I am going to buy this new cut of blazer.' That's why we have a little more faith in consumer spending this holiday."
She also expects tech items, especially smartphones and tablets, to drive sales. "They are becoming necessities, and people are saying 'I need that' and 'My kids need that.'"
The forecast is also calling for a 14% jump in non-store spending, with 75% taking place online, and the rest in catalogs and interactive TV.
"The online channel still has plenty of room to grow," she says. "There is still a percentage of people that don't buy online, or that buy online consistently, and they are coming from unexpected places." Higher gas prices feed that, she says: "People think, 'I am not going to drive around to three stores for something I can find easily online.' And it also helps that retailers have become more sophisticated with the online experience, enhancing sites and making them unique to their brands."
She also predicts a big jump in mobile commerce this year. "Last year, it was still an experiment for stores. But more stores have put together mobile apps, or reformatted sites so that mobile content really pops. They're getting that you can't just put on ad from the Sunday circular on a phone and have it work."