What’s In Store This Holiday Shopping Season?

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Ho! Ho! Ho! And here we go again. Another holiday season approaches and the chatter starts … How much will we spend? Where will we spend it? Will drones be replacing the reindeer this year? Will there be more temporary elves hired than ever before to help with the rush? Will Santa be taking orders online or going to the store? Will Barbie be dethroned again by Elsa from Frozen or is there another heroine waiting to take the crown?

As usual, the ever optimistic National Retail Federation is “fully expecting to see healthy growth” according to its president and CEO, Matthew Shay. The growth it’s forecasting is an overall increase of 3.7 percent in November and December with online sales increasing between six and eight percent to more than $100 billion – around 16 percent of the total spend.

In terms of seasonal employment, the NRF is forecasting between 700,000 and 750,000 seasonal workers this holiday season – which is very much in line with last year’s number of 714,000 new holiday positions and somewhat lower than 2013 hires, which topped 760,000.

Who will be the big winners? Clearly as omnichannel retailing becomes the norm, those who can build better bridges between bricks and clicks will earn extra share of wallet. Balancing challenges with load times and high volume order processing online versus generating traffic in stores will be key – all the while ensuring that inventory is in the right place to be delivered quickly and generally at no cost by December 24, to the ever-demanding consumer.

Buying online and picking up in stores, as well as free shipping, are key factors for this holiday season along with the convergence of retail and mobile – smartphone and tablet usage for research on retailer information and product availability will be everywhere. However, along with quick and easy information and fast and free delivery, sales or price discounts will continue to dominate as the biggest triggers for the savvy shopper to type in her card numbers or hand over the plastic. It all comes down to the price – ah, the spirit of the holidays – love and joy and discounts all around!

Amanda Nicholson

Amanda Nicholson

Professor of Retail Practice Amanda Nicholson spent 20 years in the retail management field before entering higher education. She began her career with Marks & Spencer in London and then moved to Chicago to work in a variety of department store management positions. Her research interests include the preparation of students with appropriate skills for industry, developing student leadership skills, and the role of communications in the retention of retail employees.
Amanda Nicholson

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