Just 2 Percent Increase in Holiday Sales: Deloitte

Consulting company Deloitte says with slow economic growth keeping household spending plans in check, retailers should anticipate a modest increase in 2010 holiday sales, Deloitte released its forecast today, Sept. 20.

“Sustained weakness in the housing and employment markets continue to restrict consumer cash flow,” said Carl Steidtmann, Deloitte’s chief economist.

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Steidtmann added, “Consumers discretionary funds have dwindled as households remain focused on reducing debt and increasing their savings, while banks continue to limit access to credit and stimulus checks have run out.  Should consumers receive good tidings later this season in the way of falling energy prices or additional stock market gains, they may be able to lend retailers a bit more holiday cheer.  However, given the unsteady pace of economic recovery, retailers should expect only a small uptick in holiday sales this year.”

Meanwhile, Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) has said although back-to-school shopping helped lift retail sales slightly in August, continued sluggish growth suggests consumers’ broader economic worries remain high. (Read: Back-to-School Shopping Propels Retail Sales)

As regards travel-related sales, the Fareologists at Bing Travel have issued a preliminary outlook for the 2010 holiday season predicting similar holiday travel pricing as last year. In 2009, airfares and hotel rates remained low as a way to reinvigorate consumer travel during a tough economy. This year, the same opportunities exist for people looking to see family or take a vacation during the 2010 holiday travel season. (Read: Quick Tips for Smart Holiday Travel)

Deloitte’s retail group expects total holiday sales to reach $852 billion, representing a 2 percent increase in November through January holiday sales, excluding motor vehicles and gasoline, over last season.

This growth rate represents a slight improvement over last year’s 1 percent gain.

“Non-store retailing, particularly e-commerce, is gearing up to be the bright spot in the holiday picture this year,” said Alison Paul, vice chairman and Deloitte’s retail sector leader in the United States, adding that Deloitte forecasts a 15 percent increase in non-store sales.  Nearly two-thirds of non-store sales are from the online channel, with the remainder coming from catalogs and interactive TV.

Paul continued, “Online activity may also influence in-store shopping this holiday season, as social networks and mobile applications are playing a more prominent role in the shopping process.”

Deloitte is forecasting a 2 percent increase in 2010 holiday sales compared with 2009.  Retail sales between November 2009 and January 2010 (not seasonally adjusted and excluding automotive and gasoline) totaled $834 billion according to the U.S. Commerce Department, informs Deloitte.

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