Retail Group Applauds New Stimulus Deal

The National Retail Federation lauded Congress for passing new economic aid to consumers during the ongoing pandemic and winter holiday retail season. The $900 billion Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020 provides for an immediate $600 payment to most Americans, in addition to $300 to the unemployed, and millions for small businesses and independent movie theater operators.

“Retailers are encouraged by the passage of this economic relief package that will keep the economy open and moving in the right direction as the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic continues,” CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.

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The trade group’s November retail sales report showed that consumers held back on spending, and more robust government stimulus was needed to shore up the economy and the retail industry, which creates employment for 52 million Americans.

The NRF has forecast that holiday sales will increase between 3.6% and 5.2% over 2019 to a total between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion — with 27% of holiday shoppers seeking packaged media entertainment.

“The retail industry has invested billions of dollars throughout the pandemic to ensure the health and safety of employees and customers,” Shay said. “Our hope is this latest stimulus will be a down payment on economic relief next year.”

NRF: More Than 150 Million Consumers Plan to Shop on ‘Super Saturday’ (Dec. 19) — With 27% Eyeing Packaged-Media Gifts

With less a week before Christmas, more than 150 million U.S. consumers plan to shop on Super Saturday (Dec. 19), up slightly from 147.8 million in 2019, according to new data from the National Retail Federation.

NRF’s survey of 8,092 adult consumers was conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics Nov. 25 through Dec. 4. The trade group defines the holiday season from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 and has forecast that sales will increase between 3.6% and 5.2% over 2019 to a total between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion. Over the 2020 holiday season, NRF expects that online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, will increase between 20% and 30%. In total consumers plan to spend $997.79 on gifts, holiday items and additional “non-gift” purchases for themselves and their families this year, according to NRF’s annual survey released in October.

“Throughout this year’s extraordinary circumstances, retailers have remained dedicated to protecting their customers, employees and the communities they serve regardless of how and when consumers choose to shop,”  Matthew Shay, CEO of NRF, said in a statement.

The number of anticipated shoppers on the last Saturday before Christmas includes both in-store and online and is the second-highest reported since NRF began tracking this figure in 2016. Of those planning to shop, 42% intend to do so solely online. Last year Super Saturday occurred just a few days before Christmas, while this year it falls nearly a week before the Christmas holiday, giving shoppers a few extra days to complete purchases.

As noted in NRF’s Thanksgiving survey, more than half (52%) of holiday shoppers took advantage of early holiday sales and promotions even before the Thanksgiving holiday. Last month 186.4 million Americans shopped between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday. As of early December, 85% of holiday consumers had started shopping and they had completed 52% of their purchasing for the season.

For those with at least half of their shopping left to complete, 37% were still deciding what to buy, 26% were waiting for family and friends to tell them what they wanted, and 23% were holding off for the best deals. Similarly to last year, more than half (54%) of holiday shoppers plan to purchase their last gift during the week leading up to Christmas.

A majority (52%) of holiday shoppers plan to do the remainder of their shopping online. Other top destinations include department stores (30%), discount stores (20%), clothing and accessories stores (20%) and electronics stores (17%).

Top gift purchases so far included clothing and accessories (45%), toys (29%), gift cards (28%), books and other media (27%) and electronics (23%). Just 21% of holiday shoppers plan to give a “gift of experience” this year, down from 25% in 2019 and the lowest since NRF first asked the question in 2015.

“While traditionally a popular item, it’s clear that the pandemic has impacted ‘gifts of experience’ this year,” said Phil Rist, Prosper’s EVP of strategy. “With continued uncertainty around gatherings and out-of-home activities, we saw the biggest decline in plans to gift an experience among those ages 35 to 44, but the under-25 cohort also saw a significant dip.”

Still, shopping will continue into the new year. The survey found that two-thirds (66%) of holiday shoppers will likely shop in the week immediately following Christmas. The top reasons consumers plan to shop during the last week of December are to take advantage of post-holiday sales and promotions (45%) and use gift cards (27%). Whether it’s shopping post-holiday sales immediately after Dec. 25 or in the first few weeks of the new year, nearly half of shoppers plan to shop these deals online.

NRF: November Holiday Retail Sales Up 8.8% Despite Pandemic

November retail sales increased 8.8% from the previous-year period despite the pandemic — but declined 1.1% from October, according to new data from the National Retail Federation.

“Consumers held back on spending in November [from October] as virus rates spiked, states imposed retail restrictions and congressional stimulus discussions were gridlocked,” NRF CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.

Shay’s comments come as Congress appears moving toward a $900 billion stimulus package that would include an additional $300 weekly atop other unemployment funds. That amount is 50% less than what the federal government paid unemployment recipients in the first CARES Act, which expired on July 30.

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“We are hopeful [the second stimulus] will be passed soon as we enter the final stretch of the holiday season,” Shay said.

The U.S. Census Bureau Dec. 16 reported that overall retail sales in November were down 1.1% seasonally adjusted from October but up 4.1% year-over-year. That compares with a monthly drop of 0.1% but a yearly gain of 5.5% in October.

“The month-over-month decline isn’t surprising because some spending was pulled forward into October by campaigns encouraging consumers to shop early and shop safe,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Despite that, as we go into the final weeks of 2020, year-over-year trends show spending is holding up well regardless of month-to-month fluctuations. Nonetheless, we have to remember the remainder of the holiday season depends critically on the virus. We are optimistic, but spending could shift into a lower gear if the virus continues to spread.”

November saw year-over-year gains in seven out of nine retail categories, led by double-digit increases for online sales, building materials and sporting goods.

  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 1.6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 8.5% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Building materials and garden supply stores were up 1.1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 17.2% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Online and other non-store sales were up 0.2% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 30% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods stores were down 0.6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 14% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Health and personal care stores were down 0.7% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 2.6% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • General merchandise stores were down 1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 1% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 1.1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 0.4% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were down 3.5% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and down 9.9% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores were down 6.8% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and down 19.2% unadjusted year-over-year.

 

NRF’s calculation of retail sales — which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail — showed November was down 0.3% seasonally adjusted from October but up 8.8% unadjusted year-over-year. That compared with a decrease of 0.1% month-over-month and an increase of 10.5% year-over-year in October. NRF’s numbers were up 10.8% unadjusted year-over-year on a three-month moving average.

Monthly numbers fluctuate even when adjusted for seasonal variations, making year-over-year comparisons a better indication of long-term trends. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales have increased each month since May under NRF’s calculation and since June under the Census Bureau calculation. Retail sales during the first 11 months of the year were up 6.6%, according to NRF’s calculation.

NRF has forecast that holiday sales will increase between 3.6% and 5.2% over 2019 to a total between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion. While NRF defines the holiday season as Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, NRF research shows 42% of consumers started holiday shopping sooner than usual this year after NRF urged the public to shop safe and shop early. On average, consumers had about half their holiday shopping left to do as of Thanksgiving weekend.

NRF: Movie DVDs Among Top-Selling Thanksgiving Weekend Sales Items; Shopping Traffic Down Slightly

An estimated 186.4 million consumers took advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend price discounts and shopped in-store and online this year, according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

After toys, books, music, movie DVDs, video games (29%), gift cards/certificates (29%) and electronics (27%) ranked among top-selling items, according to a survey of 6,615 adult consumers conducted Nov. 25-30 .

While the overall number of shoppers from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday dropped slightly from 189.6 million in an unusually robust 2019, this figure is still significantly higher than the 165.8 million shoppers in 2018.

“As expected, consumers have embraced an earlier start to the holiday shopping season, but many were also prepared to embrace a long-standing tradition of turning out online and in stores over Thanksgiving weekend to make gift purchases for family and friends,” NRF CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.

Black Friday and Saturday saw strong growth in online activity. For the first time, the number of online Black Friday shoppers passed the 100 million mark, up 8% over last year. The number of online Saturday shoppers grew even more, up 17% compared with last year. Online-only shoppers increased by 44% for the entire weekend, for a total of 95.7 million.

With retailers enticing consumers with generous deals as early as October, more than half (52%) of holiday shoppers said they took advantage of early holiday sales and promotions this year. Of those, 38 percent said they checked off holiday purchases in the week leading up to Thanksgiving. More than half (53%) felt the promotions over the weekend were the same as they had been earlier in the season.

As expected, in-store shopping was down given both the state of the pandemic as well as the number of retailers who opted to close on Thanksgiving Day. With consumer traffic moving to online channels, the number of in-store shoppers on Thanksgiving Day dropped by 55% from last year and those on Black Friday dropped by 37%. An earlier NRF survey found that a large majority (70%) of holiday shoppers say they feel safe shopping in stores this holiday season given the precautions retailers have taken for COVID-19.

Over the five-day period, shoppers spent an average of $311.75 on holiday-related purchases such as gifts or decorations, down from last year’s total of $361.90 but comparable to 2018’s $313.29. Of that amount, nearly three-quarters ($224.48) was spent directly on gifts.

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Consumers have continued to stress the importance of holidays throughout this year. In fact, the majority of holiday shoppers (55%) said recent developments around COVID-19 cases had no impact on their holiday spending plans this year. Most (51%) also feel that given the pandemic, they are more interested in holiday decorations and seasonal items. They were also eager to support small businesses, as 77% indicated they were more interested in doing so this year.

“The growth in online activity this year was significant, particularly for Black Friday and Saturday shoppers,” said Phil Rist, EVP of strategy at Prosper Insights & Analytics. “With the start to the holiday shopping season continuing to move up even earlier, consumers will further utilize these channels.”

Shopping destinations included department stores (visited by 40% of those surveyed), grocery stores (39%), clothing stores (33%) and electronics stores (31%).

Although consumers have embraced the earlier start to the holiday shopping season, their lists are not quite complete. Holiday shoppers have about half of their shopping left to do and 91% expect they will continue to see great deals throughout the rest of the season.

NRF defines the holiday season as Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 and has forecast that sales will increase between 3.6% and 5.2% over 2019 to a total between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion. Over the 2020 holiday season, NRF expects that online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, will increase between 20% and 30%. In total consumers plan to spend $997.79 on gifts, holiday items and additional “non-gift” purchases for themselves and their families this year, according to NRF’s annual survey released in October.

NRF: 2020 Winter Holiday Sales to Grow 5%

The National Retail Federation Nov. 23 forecast that holiday sales during November and December will increase from 3.6% to 5.2% over the same period last year, generating $755.3 billion to $766.7 billion in revenue. The data, which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, compares with a 4% increase to $729.1 billion in 2019, and an average holiday sales increase of 3.5% over the past five years.

“We know this holiday season will be unlike any other, and retailers have planned ahead by investing billions of dollars to ensure the health and safety of their employees and customers,” Matthew Shay, CEO of the retail trade group, said in a statement. “Consumers have shown they are excited about the holidays and are willing to spend on gifts that lift the spirits of family and friends after such a challenging year.”

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NRF expects that online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, will increase between 20% and 30% to between $202.5 billion and $218.4 billion, up from $168.7 billion last year.

“Given the pandemic, there is uncertainty about consumers’ willingness to spend, but with the economy improving most have the ability to spend,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz.

Kleinhenz said households have strong balance sheets supported by a strong stock market, rising home values and record savings boosted by government stimulus payments issued earlier this year. Jobs and wages are growing, energy costs are low and reduced spending on personal services, travel and entertainment because of the virus has freed up money for retail spending.

As a result of store shutdowns and stay-at-home orders last spring, not all retailers and categories have rebounded as quickly, including small and mid-sized retailers. However, in the aggregate retail sales have been growing month-over-month and year-over-year since June. As calculated by NRF, sales were up 10.6% in October versus October 2019, likely driven in part by early holiday shopping. For the first 10 months of this year, retail sales were up 6.4% versus the first 10 months of 2019.

With e-commerce sales up 36.7% year-over-year during the third quarter, many households are expected to depend on digital shopping to make many of their holiday purchases, just as they have for much of their everyday spending this year. The online spending includes websites operated by bricks-and-mortar retailers, which have become major players in the online market as retail channels have merged.

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The NRF forecast is based on an economic model that takes into consideration a variety of indicators, including employment, wages, consumer confidence, disposable income, consumer credit, previous retail sales and weather. NRF defines the holiday season as Nov. 1 through Dec. 31.

The forecast comes as NRF’s latest research shows 42% of consumers started their holiday shopping earlier than usual this year. NRF’s “New Holiday Traditions” campaign has urged consumers to shop safe and shop early amidst the pandemic, and 59% had begun by early November, up from 49% at that point a decade ago.

 

Video Games, Hardware Spearhead Record Online Black Friday Sales

Sales of soccer-themed video game FIFA 20 and NFL-based Madden 20 helped drive record online sales on post-Thanksgiving Black Friday (Nov. 29), according to new data from Adobe Analytics. The Nintendo Switch console ranked among the most-popular online purchases — as it has all year in the video game market.

Adobe said consumers spent $7.4 billion online, which trails only the all-time $7.9 billion spent a year ago on Cyber Monday. The software giant, which tracked the majority of Web retailers, is projecting $9.4 billion in online spending on Cyber Monday (Dec. 2) this year.

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Consumers tallied 39% of Black Friday e-commerce transactions and 61% of online traffic from their mobile phones.

Adobe said online Thanksgiving sales topped $4.2 billion, upped 14.5% from the previous-year period.

Regardless, of the e-commerce boom, more than 165 million people are projected to frequent retail stores from Thanksgiving through Dec. 1, according to the National Retail Federation.

“They’re making it easy for you to purchase however you want to purchase, whether it’s going into the physical store, ordering online and picking it up or ordering it online and having it shipped to you,” Sucharita Kodali, analyst at Forrester Research, said in a statement. Forrester partnered with Adobe on the data.

NRF: Half of Winter Holiday Shopping Already Started

Friday, Nov. 29 is often considered the beginning of the winter retail season with ubiquitous Black Friday specials prominent everywhere.

But new data from the National Retail Federation suggests almost half of all winter shopping has already begun — much of it driven by e-commerce.

The NRF commissioned survey found 56% of respondents had already begun their holiday shopping during the first week of November. That was up from 48% who had already started at the same point a decade ago. On average, consumers had completed 24% of their shopping, the highest level in the history of the survey and up from 16% in 2009.

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“This is further evidence that the holiday season has grown far beyond the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Matthew Shay, CEO of NRF, said in a statement. “Thanksgiving is still a hallmark of the season, and there’s billions of dollars in shopping still to come. But many consumers have already been shopping for weeks, and retailers are increasingly adapting to that.”

NRF defines the holiday season as Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 and has forecast that sales will total between $727.9 and $730.7 billion. Consumers expect to spend an average $1,047.83 — including purchases made earlier — for an increase of 4% over last year.

There are only 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, down six days from last year, but NRF does not expect that to make a difference in spending given the number of people who begin shopping earlier.

“Consumers don’t wait for Thanksgiving or Black Friday anymore and neither do retailers,” said Phil Rist, EVP of strategy at Prosper Insights & Analytics, which conducted the survey for NRF. “Retailers responded this year by offering promotions earlier than ever, with some rolling out holiday deals even before Halloween.”

Thanksgiving, Black Friday Retail Traffic Rivals 2017 as E-Commerce Soars

Consumer foot traffic to brick-and-mortar retail stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday resulted in a combined 1% decline for the two-day period compared to last year, with a 1.7% decline in traffic on Black Friday versus 2017, according to new data from ShopperTrak.

“The fact that the combined shopper visits remained almost the same this year compared to the last three years proves that the notion of Black Friday not being popular anymore is a myth,” Brian Field, senior director of global retail consulting for ShopperTrak, said in a statement.

The National Retail Federation predicted that about 164 million people would shop over the five days through Cyber Monday – which equals last year’s tally.

Meanwhile, online shopping over the holidays — much like e-commerce during the year — continues to grow exponentially.

Adobe reportedly expects online holiday shopping in November and December to increase nearly 15% from 2017. The tech company said Black Friday shopping on the Internet increased nearly 28% to $6.4 billion. Online shopping on Thanksgiving increased 28% to $3.7 billion.

Regardless, ShopperTrak estimates 80% of the holiday’s busiest shopping days are still ahead. The days include Super Saturday, which falls on Dec. 22, and the Sunday before Christmas, Dec. 23.

Notably, for the third year in a row, there are four Saturdays in December prior to Christmas Day, which will enhance the importance of both Dec. 8 and Dec. 15. In addition, similar to last year, the Saturday after Christmas, Dec. 29, is expected to be one of the busiest shopping days taking the last spot on the top 10 busiest day’s list.

“Shopping in physical stores during the holidays continues to be an exciting annual event for consumers and based on the Black Friday traffic data, retailers are in for a successful holiday season,” said Field.