Kantar Forecast: Online's Best Holiday In Five Years

While many of us are struggling to wrap their brains around fast-approaching Labor Day, Kantar Retail is a season ahead, already releasing its holiday forecast. The consulting company is predicting a solid gain of 3.8%, including a 16% increase in online spending and a 2% hike in brick-and-mortar shopping.

This forecast presents a small bump from the 3.4% growth in fourth-quarter sales last year. 

“Lower prices and job growth will stimulate more holiday shopping activity this year,” says Doug Hermanson, its principal economist, in a release announcing the prediction. “On the other hand, falling prices will create a tough environment for topline retail sales growth.”

He adds that the distance between e-commerce and in-store sales “will be much wider than recent years.” In fact, the 2% gain for physical stores would actually be lower — 1.9% — if supermarkets and drug chains wee removed from the mix. That online growth, if the prediction holds, will make for online’s best showing since 2011.



Hermanson says the gains are likely to be spurred by lower food and fuel prices, even if people’s incomes are slow-growing.

The National Retail Federation, which typically releases its forecast early in October, last year forecast gains of 3.7%. (Deloitte, the consulting company, also made predictions in that range, projecting overall spending gains of 3.7%.) When actual spending was tallied, however, holiday sales had gained just 3%, attributable partly to bad weather and because retailers cut prices so low.

Separately, Experian Marketing Services just released new holiday research, pinpointing email strategies that marketers should lean on in the coming holiday season. The company says it combined data from last year's campaigns with current market trends, and found that:

*Brands need to improve the customer data they collect at the point-of-sale. “Welcome mailings to POS subscribers had a 32% higher click-to-open rate than for subscribers obtained from other sources,” it says.

*Use clever-er mail content Ideas like dynamic countdown clocks, for example, had a 41% higher click-to-open rate, as well as double the transaction rate.

*Get even more personalPersonalized subject lines got 27% higher unique click rates, and more than double the transaction rate compared to other promotional emails.

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