Study: CMOs Not Expecting Much Holiday Cheer

A new survey of CMOs at the nation's largest retailers has a decidedly "hold the eggnog" tone to it. The BDO Seidman Retail Compass survey finds that 73% of CMOs predict a gloves-off kind of fourth quarter, with plentiful discounts and promotions. And because of consumers' credit crisis, 64% say they are being more cautious in their sales plans than last year.

Overall, these CMOs are a little more bullish than others--predicting an average 5.03% increase in same-store sales, "a full percentage point higher than that of the National Retail Federation," the poll finds. "But that represents a large drop in optimism among retail CMOs, who predicted 7.8% growth for the 2006 holiday season." As recently as September, the same group had been predicting same-store sales gains of 5.6%. And it's worth noting that most of those polled-54%--say they expect same-store sales to be flat.

Consumers' fears about credit, these marketing executives say, will be the wild card of the season, with 27% naming credit as the external issue that will have the greatest influence on shopping behavior. Too-high energy costs--the bogeyman for many retailers last year--are still worrisome for about 22% of these CMOs, followed by the lousy housing market (17%), product safety (15%) and the stock market (14%).



And more than one-quarter--26%--report that the uproar surrounding Chinese imports has changed their inventory assortment; many of them are devoting greater marketing muscle to U.S.-made products as a result. (But only 15% of the respondents have actually changed their supply chains.)

Finally, the poll found that green products are getting an unexpected boost, with 37% of the CMOs saying they're expanding their "green" focus this season.

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