Holiday Retail Sales Expected to Be Better Than 2016, But Deep Discounts Helped

Although Christmas was only two days ago, retail industry insiders already have predictions on how business fared throughout the holiday shopping season — and the opinions are mixed.

“Consumer confidence has been at an all-time high over the last few months, in addition to the unemployment rate being low and wages have slightly gone up year-over-year, which is allowing consumers to splurge and spend more than they normally would,” explained Ana Smith, senior director of media relations at the National Retail Federation.

According to Smith, NRF forecasted between 3.6 percent and 4 percent sales growth for November and December, compared with the same months in 2016. She also stated that after seeing November results, the trade association believes the expectations will be met or exceed the 4 percent mark, resulting in roughly $682 billion expected for the holiday season.

The top-performing categories, according to Smith, were e-commerce, groceries and apparel (which includes footwear).

But Matt Powell, senior industry adviser for sports of The NPD Group, isn’t as hopeful — specifically with post-Christmas sales, which he said are vital to the sneaker industry.

“I’m out doing some retail recon right now [Dec. 26] and I would say it looks very disappointing,” he said. “It really does not feel like the day after Christmas, that sort of frantic “Let’s get a deal.” The malls are full of kids, but they’re not buying anything.”

Powell is also concerned with the amount of sales brands offered throughout the holday season.

“It’s not a complete picture yet, but I can tell you from my eye, this was the most promotional holiday in all the years that I’ve been studying the business,” he said. “Brands were on sale more often, the breadth and depth of the discounts were deeper and wider than any previous year. What it says is, business wasn’t great, and retailers are trying to move product. They probably sacrificed margins for nominal sales increases.”

Powell expects shoe chains such as Famous Footwear,Shoe Carnival and DSW to have the best showing throughout the holiday season, because this channel had the best performance throughout the fall.

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