Coal In The Stocking: Expect Weaker Holiday Sales Growth

Omnicom’s Annalect data group has compiled research that lowers expectations for this year’s retail holiday shopping season.

Factors such as less-than-robust job growth and the late start to the shopping season are behind the tepid outlook, the firm stated in a fall retail report to clients.

In-Store traffic is projected to be down more than 1% -- versus the 2.5% increase last year -- and sales growth in the last two months of the year won’t reach the 3% hike achieved in the same period of 2012.

The good news: ecommerce holiday sales will remain strong and are expected to grow more than 15% this year to nearly $62 billion.

On-line-off-line integration strategies are key to competing effectively, Annalect concludes. “As retailers continue to expand their e-commerce offerings, the most effective brands are creating a seamless shopping experience, blurring the lines between online and offline into one engaging experience,” the report states.



Nordstrom, for example, is promoting its most-pinned items on Pinterest in its physical stores. Walmart is mining mobile, social and local data to predict shoppers’ next purchases and is stocking based on social media activity.

Some 22% of brands now enable shoppers to see if a specific item is in stock at a retail location from their Web sites, per the Annalect report. Others, like Williams-Sonoma promote “shop in store, ship to home” offers. In the case of W-S, shoppers who make a purchase of $49 or more at a brick-and-mortar store can ship the purchase home for free.

Retailers are focused intently on mobile-optimized Web sites this year, as 16% of e-commerce holiday sales are expected to come from mobile. Annalect cites a survey reporting online mobile optimization to be the top holiday investment among nearly 60% of retailers polled.

Retail marketers are upgrading mobile apps as well. Urban Outfitters recently added a slew of new features, including a new rewards program, 2D barcode scanning and the ability to listen to the retailer’s dedicated radio station.

And Macy’s has enabled its app to allow shoppers to view Black Friday specials throughout November and create shopping lists that can be edited and shared with Friends.

For the first time, Macy’s is kicking off their Black Friday event on Thanksgiving, starting at 8 p.m. The department store chain is following the lead of competitors such as Lord & Taylor, Gap, Walmart and Target.

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