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Ready Set Shop!

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With a few weeks to go before the holiday shopping rush really begins, retailers are biting their fingernails. It is a crucial time of year as many generate 30% of their sales and 40% of profits over this period.

The National Retail Federation is optimistic, expecting holiday sales to jump 4.1% to $616.9 billion, better than last year’s 3.1% increase and the average 2.9% growth rate we have seen in the last decade.

Meanwhile, Shop.org’s online holiday sales forecast looks for sales in November and December to grow between 8 – 11% over last year to as much as $105 billion.

The economy is doing better and the unemployment rate has dropped to 5.8%. Consumer confidence is also on the rise. And gas prices are now below $3 (in the lower 48). So consumers should be bit more willing to spend this year.

Retailers are already taking action ahead of the holiday season. Macy’s announced that it is opening its stores at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day to capture Black Friday shoppers a little early.

That might be because a recent survey found that nearly 30% of consumers said they’d spend more than 50% of their total holiday budgets between November 28 and December 1. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus for retailers and he comes over the Thanksgiving Day weekend!

Apparently, shoppers are using social media, like Twitter, to share ideas and hunt for bargains. And Deloitte (an accounting and consulting firm) found that 84% of shoppers are using digital tools before and during their trip to a store. Those shoppers make a purchase, at a 40% higher rate than those who do not use such strategies.

Soon we will be seeing Jackie doing the weather from the Diamond Center or Sears’s mall amidst a crush of holiday sales traffic. And reporters will be interviewing shoppers about what’s hot and what’s not. And retailers will be on pins and needles hoping for a merry (and profitable) holiday season!

Jeff Pantages
Chief Investment Officer

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