As the important 2014 holiday sales season approaches, there are signs that it might actually be a good year.
AlixPartners, a consulting firm, predicts that 2014 holiday retail sales will rise 4.1-4.9 percent, according to ABC News. E-commerce platform Volusion predicts that small and mid-sized businesses could see their online holiday sales rise 9 percent year-over-year in 2014.
Of course, early holiday sales predictions aren’t always accurate, and the National Retail Federation isn’t expected to release its often-awaited 2014 holiday sales forecast until early October.
But even growing inbound-carrier volume at California ports in 2014 so far suggests a better sales season, according to Bloomberg. “The fact that some companies are so concerned about capacity suggests we'll have a much better holiday season than in the past few years," Charles Clowdis, managing director of transportation advisory services at IHS Global Insight, told Bloomberg.
Many big-box retailers, from Costco to Walmart to Target, are already selling holiday gift items and décor, and some have already announced plans to extend their hours in order to facilitate holiday shopping, according to USA Today. (More than half of all Target stores, for example, are now open until midnight and are expected to remain so through the holiday season.) The National Retail Federation estimates that 40 percent of holiday shoppers start shopping before Halloween. Moreover, counting on sales in late November and December is risky: Last year, holiday sales were reportedly the weakest since 2009 due to unusually cold and snowy weather across the United States in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
A slew of heavy discounting by major retailers on Black Friday and into December turned up the pressure on small retailers, who often can’t slash their prices as deeply.
For a small retailer, especially, it can be wise to start promoting holiday gift items before the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas mayhem sets in. A recent survey by Hay Group, a retail consulting firm, found that 18 percent of retailers planned to start their holiday promotions in September this year, while 35 percent planned to start in October.
Says Maryam Morse, national practice leader for Hay Group: “Shoppers can expect to start seeing holiday sales early this season, as retailers work to get customers in the door sooner, rather than later.”
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