Holiday 2012: Part V

I’ve being covering the holiday outlook here:

Holiday 2012: Part I
Holiday 2012: Part II
Holiday 2012: Part III
Holiday 2012: Part IV

NRF released a holiday sales forecast of 4.1 percent for 2012. This is below the 5.6 percent growth seen in 2011, but is above the 10-year holiday sales growth average of 3.5%. NRF also expects retailers will hire between 585,000 and 625,000 seasonal workers, compared with the 607,500 seasonal employees hired last year.

CitiGroup believes online holiday sales will increase at least 20 percent.  The article included a few good statistics. CitiGroup expects mobile-aided online shopping will have a limited impact on holiday shopping.  Mobile retail is expected to grow from $10 billion this year to $31 billion in 2016.  By 2016, seven percent of total online sales will come through mobile devices – up from three percent in 2012 according to Forrester Research. total online-retail sales accounts for about seven percent of total retail sales. sales through social networks will increase 93 percent from $1 billion last year.

A survey from and Harris Interactive find  nine percent of respondents are very likely to purchase items on layaway this holiday season with another 29 percent saying they might. Fifty-four percent said layaway helps them buy larger items they couldn’t afford to buy all at once, 52 percent said it helps with budgeting, 46 percent said it helps them avoid using credit card. 43 percent said it helps to with planning ahead and 43 percent like being able to reserve a popular item.

 Target announced their top 20 toys (Walmart and Toys”R”Us previously released their top holiday toys list as I covered in my previous holiday posts).  Target has also added QR codes so shoppers can scan the toy in-store, buy online, and have it shipped for free.   Target also introduced a new tool to create and share wish lists.

Toys”R”Us announced they will price-match in-store competitors or lower online prices available on or  Toys”R”Us also announced the launch of a new digital entertainment service.

A recent Booz & Company survey covered in Strategy+Business provides a few insights on the upcoming holiday season:

  1. Sixty-one percent of consumers say they have “learned to live with less” (up from 53 percent last year).
  2. Consumers are expecting bargains: 73 percent of consumers expect to find great deals this season (up from 62 percent last year).
  3. Fifty-three percent intend to buy at least one luxury item (up from 41 percent last year).
  4. Sixty-one percent expect to get together with family this year (up from 54 percent last year), and they are looking forward to throwing more parties: 53 percent expect to host multiple gatherings for family, friends, and neighbors (up from 45 percent last year).
  5. Forty-two percent of consumers reporting they intend to buy clothing as gifts (up from 37 percent last year). Consumers appear to be inclined to buy apparel later than they did last year — many waiting until well after Black Friday.
  6. Thirty-eight percent of consumers have electronics at the top of their personal wish lists. Tablets and smartphones top the list of those wanting electronics.
  7. Interest for home entertainment also appears strong – 62 percent of respondents report that they will be shopping for these items.
  8. As CEA has reported on in recent years, downloadable gifts are growing. More than 45 percent of shoppers expect to give at least one downloadable gift this year.
  9. More than 80 million shoppers plan to purchase gift cards this year, about 4 percent more than last year.
  10. Booz reported 40 percent of consumers now describe showcasing (ie showrooming) as their shopping strategy.  Booz believes multichannel shopping will also increasing in popular.
  11. thirty-two percent of shoppers are proactively planning to regift.  Thirty-one percent of shoppers view regifting as an acceptable form of gift giving (versus 25 percent last year).

 Booz also offered several suggestions to retailers. Here are a few that I think are relevant:

  1. Develop seamless digital and physical experiences.  Retailers continue to approach their online and brick and mortar stores as separate business lines, but consumers view these as the same business/retailer.
  2. Offer “buy-it-now” promotions at the shelf to turn browsers into buyers or to drive customers in your store to your website.
  3. Ensure sales associates are intimately familiar with the company’s website and mobile offerings (such as apps) so that they can help customers navigate between all retail channels in real time. As Booz writes, “in a multichannel world, nothing alienates a consumer more than a blank stare from a salesperson in response to “Well, on your website it says…”