Retailers gearing up for big pre-Christmas shopping in next two days
Fathers and other pre-Christmas procrastinators are expected to hit the stores in force on Friday, kicking off a calendar-enhanced flurry of holiday shopping that should warm retailers' hearts.
It’s beginning to shape up as a perfect storm – in a good sense – for retailers.Skip to next paragraph
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On Friday, many Americans – especially procrastinating dads – are taking off from work or leaving early to hit the malls.
Even better, Christmas Eve falls on a Saturday, which means the dads don’t have to lie to the boss about why they are not at work.
And, to top it off, retail experts think Monday – an official holiday – will also be a big day as holiday presents get returned and gift cards used.
As a result of all these extra shopping days – combined with improving consumer sentiment – it looks as if the holiday season could sparkle for the nation’s retailers.
Mr. Martin refers to Friday as “Father’s Day” since that’s when many men will begin their holiday shopping. “I expect it to be a pretty significant day,” he forecasts.
Because of what appears to be better-than-expected buying, some analysts are bumping up their outlook for holiday sales. Chris Christopher, a senior economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Mass. had anticipated holiday sales would rise by 4.2 percent. Now, he thinks it will be closer to 5 percent.
“We think consumers will shop right to the end,” he says. “It doesn’t hurt that gasoline prices are down.”
On Saturday and Monday, consumers are likely to find the best bargains, says Mr. Martin. “They will find 40 percent to 50 percent off selected merchandize, but that is quite different from a few years ago when the stores were taking off 60 percent to 70 percent.”
In fact, many items this holiday period are actually more expensive, says Mr. Christopher. He thinks about half the increase in holiday sales will be directly related to higher prices.
“Consumers are spending more and getting less,” he says.
Even though consumers are opening up their wallets, Christopher says they are still careful about their purchases. “They are not being lavish,” he explains.
In fact, many consumers are using their smart phones and other mobile devices to find bargains. An analysis over the last few days by the research firm Crimson Hexagon, based in Boston, found 38 percent of online conversations were about sales and deals.