BILLINGS- As Thanksgiving draws near, so does Black Friday, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. According to the National Retail Federation, retailers should expect a sharp uptick in consumer spending this year.
“Confidence is near an all-time high, unemployment is the lowest we’ve seen in decades and take-home wages are up. All of that is reflected in consumers’ buying plans,” said National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay in a holiday preview on nrf.com.
The retail group reports in its annual survey that consumers expect to spend 4.1 percent more over the holidays this year compared to 2017. These numbers match up with the group’s holiday forecast, which predicts a 4.3-4.8 percent increase in consumer spending over 2017.
Daron Olson, marketing director at Rimrock Mall in Billings, acknowledged the NRF outlook while also noting that he has seen other more bullish projections.
“Other reports I saw had it as high as 5.8 percent, which would put holiday retail sales in the United States over a trillion dollars for the first time. I can tell you the sentiment from our retailers here is very optimistic about the holiday shopping season,” said Olson.
The “other report” Olson references is from the International Council of Shopping Centers, (ICSC) which cites an 18-year high in consumer confidence in its projections for the holiday season.
Another factor contributing to high sales numbers is the favorable holiday shopping calendar. This year, there are 32 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, up from 31 and 30 in 2017 and 2016 respectively.
The National Retail Federation survey cites sales and discounts as the top reason consumers will choose a specific retailer, with 71 percent of respondents selecting this category. The number two response was quality and selection of merchandise at 60 percent.
For a look at the International Council of Shopping Center report, check out www.icsc.org.