This year, the window between Thanksgiving and Christmas for shopping is a mere 26 days–the shortest possible window.
Because of that, 27.7 percent of retailers surveyed in Levin Management Co.’s eighth annual Pre-Holiday Retail Sentiment Survey expect their peak seasonal sales to come prior to Thanksgiving, and 28.5 percent expect peak sales during Black Friday weekend.
These statistics are significant, according to LMC Chief Executive Officer Matthew Harding. When the survey was launched in 2012, just 15.3 percent of participants expected peak sales during the Black Friday weekend.
“Discussion of ‘seasonal creep’ was just beginning at that point; when we first asked about pre-Thanksgiving sales in 2013, only 13.5 percent of our respondents thought their peak would come so early,” Harding said in a statement. “Today, well more than half of participants – a pool drawn from Levin’s 105-property, 15 million-square-foot leasing and management portfolio – are gearing up for a busy November.”
Nearly 88 percent of respondents, the highest in survey history, expect this year’s holiday sales to exceed last year’s.
More than 7 out of 10 retailers report the same or higher year-to-date sales, and slightly less report the same or higher year-to-date traffic, which likely contributes to the positive outlook, according to LMC.
A recent study by the International Council of Shopping Centers found that holiday spending is expected to increase 4.9 percent over last year, and 90 percent of adults expect to shop in-store for gifts and goods.
“Our retailers are excited about the holiday season, and with good reason,” Harding said in a statement. “Barring any unforeseen or accelerated socio-economic issues, all indicators are looking good.”
For their expected peak sales periods, 38.8 percent of respondents will hold some special sales or promotions, and 37.2 percent are planning to boost inventory. For the holiday period, 40 percent of respondents say they’re adding seasonal staff.
“There is a growing emphasis on customer satisfaction and convenience, as brick-and-mortar retailers continue to find ways to differentiate themselves from e-commerce and other physical-store competitors,” said LMC Vice President of Marketing Melissa Sievwright in a statement. “Our survey asked store managers whether they are trying anything new this year to enhance their clients’ holiday shopping experience. Nearly 30 percent reported they are ‘upping the ante,’ with first-time offerings such as entertainment, an increased variety of products and services, and offerings like in-store pickup and returns for online purchases.”
Technology is playing an important role in retail marketing, she said.
While ‘impulse buys’ will always be part of the mix – evidenced by the high volume of ancillary in-store sales generated by shoppers picking up online orders – today’s consumer is likely to research higher-ticket items online before making their in-store purchases,” she said. “Further, they are using their mobile devices in real-time to grab coupons and compare pricing before they check out.”
To boost their business, 77.1 percent of survey participants are using technology tools in their holiday marketing this year. Nearly half (47.3 percent) increased their amount of tech-centered marketing this year.
“Many are embracing new-to-their-company tools including social media, text messaging and others in their marketing mix,” Sievwright said. “These survey findings are encouraging. There is no doubt we are living in a digital world, and retailers who embrace this fact are best positioned to thrive.”
The next Retail Sentiment survey from LMC will occur in January, exploring outlooks for 2020, and in May, exploring technology trends and mid-year sales performance.