Holiday 2012: Part IV

This is my fourth installment on the 2012 Holiday season.  You can see my previous comments here, here, and here.

Christmas stocking is underway (and had been more weeks in some cases).  The Consumerist has photos of Christmas displays going up in some Kohl’s and Walmart stores as early as September 21st.

As I wrote in my earlier posts – expect political advertising to crowd out some/most holiday advertising. This will be especially true in the battleground states.  Following the election (and with the presumption that there are no hanging chad-like issues), expect the media (and advertising) to shift swiftly to the holiday selling season.  Ad Age recently reported on the same thoughts.

Imports trending higher? Came across an older note on imports trending up headed into the holiday season.  I need to check where these figures are today and see how consumer tech imports are looking, but rising imports are frequently tied to discretionary purchases and are a positive sign of a consumer willing to spend.

The collective bargaining agreement between the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) which was set to expire on September 30th, has been extended for 90 days so talks can continue. This will hopefully avert potential port strikes in 14 East and Gulf Coast ports during the crucial holiday season. While the East Coast ports aren’t as important for consumer tech as the West Coast ports, any backlog during the holiday season has the potential to hurt holiday sales.

Toys”R”Us recently announced they plan to hire 45,000 seasonal workers this holiday. That figure is up from 40,000 hired during the 2011 holiday season.

Macy’s announced they would hire 80,000 seasonal workers – up 2.5 percent from last year.

I wrote previously about ShopperTrak’s estimate that retail sales for consumer electronics and appliances would be up in 2012, but would not grow as fast as overall retail.  They also estimate store traffic will be lower by eight percent.  They credit this to more “targeted shopping excursions and the continued migration to e-commerce.”  A continued move to e-commerce is logical enough, but I actually wonder if online-to-in-store-pick-up will be more pronounced this year.  I also wonder if shoppers will be out more in general.  As attitudes improve, consumers should be more inclined to “browse” and window-shop.

Deloitte is out with their holiday predictions. They are predicting holiday retail sales will be up 3.5-4 percent which is below last year’s rate of 5.9 percent. Like ShopperTrak, Alison Paul of Deloitte did suggest consumers might reduce trips to the store in response to higher gas prices.  I need to check where miles driven are right now.  I’m not sure it has declined recently in the face of higher gasoline prices.

Deloitte also believes mobile-influenced retail store sales will account for 5.1 percent, or $36 billion, of this year’s holiday retail sales.