The National Retail Federation reported holiday sales growth of 3.8 percent over 2012, which was a little better than I originally predicted. But higher store inventory closer to Christmas may have led to more sales. While this probably helped improve holiday shopping figures, overall profit may prove to be lackluster. In this edition of Retail Rap, I take a deep dive into the holiday shopping season numbers and offer my thoughts on what they mean for 2014—including some insight on the uptick in e-commerce that we saw over the holidays and how brands can capitalize on that trend moving forward.
The best numbers came from the Department of Commerce, which estimated that U.S. retail growth during the holiday season came in at 4.1% over 2012 sales. Other organizations released estimates that were a bit less robust: the National Retail Federation (NRF) reported 3.8% growth, the International Council of Shopping Centers checked in with 3.0%, and ShopperTrak announced that sales that were up 2.7%. The biggest surprise to me was how successful the last week prior to Christmas was: consumers were apparently waiting and holding out for the best deals. In some respects, that big final week really made all the difference and “saved” the season. Because, to be honest, I think the season was fairly lackluster leading up until then, especially the first half of December.
Check out the full article from my recurring column, Retail Rap, at Chain Store Age.