Retailers in Store for Historic Holiday Sales: Report

By Alan Wolf, YSN

Santa may have delivered an early Christmas present to dealers.

According to a retail sales forecast released today by the National Retail Federation (NRF), holiday spending has the potential to shatter all previous records this quarter.

The report, which is based on such factors as employment, wages, consumer confidence, disposable income, and consumer credit, predicts sales increases of as much as 10.5 percent during November and December, representing an all-time holiday high of $859 billion in sell-through.

Most of that spending will take place online, the NRF said, although households are also expected to shift back to in-store shopping in search of a more traditional holiday experience. Also, consumers are starting their holiday shopping earlier than ever, with nearly half (49 percent) of those polled beginning to browse or buy before November. The earlier start to the season continues a years’ long trend, compounded by a fear of supply-chain-triggered stockouts.

See: Best Buy Begins Black Friday Sales

As to what they’re buying, the majority of consumers surveyed by the NRF (56 percent) put gift cards at the top of their wish lists. Electronics came in fourth at 26 percent, followed by home décor at 23 percent and home improvement in eighth place at 16 percent.

Apparently, neither supply chain disruptions, inflationary pressures, nor the threat of another COVID surge can keep Santa from his appointed rounds. “The outlook for the holiday season looks very bright,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “The unusual and beneficial position we find ourselves in is that households have increased spending vigorously throughout most of 2021 and remain with plenty of holiday purchasing power.”

Kleinhenz warned, however, that all those early shoppers and pre-Black Friday sales could pull down inventories prematurely, leading to product shortages in December. But if retailers can keep merchandise in stock and deliveries arrive before Christmas, “It could be a stellar holiday sales season,” he said.