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Although Shorter, the Holiday Season is Expected to be Busy

Something that happens every six years has made its way back around - the holiday shopping season is six days shorter this year. There are only 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Get ready for early deal-seeking and a lot more stress about completing shopping on time. In spite of the short season, however, according to Deloitte's annual holiday retail forecast, holiday retail sales are expected to increase by 4.5% to 5% over 2018 with a 14% to 18% increase in e-commerce sales for the same period. Holiday sales could exceed $1.1 trillion during the November-January timeframe. Daniel Bachman of Deloitte states, "The projected holiday season growth is, in part, due to the current health of the labor market. Near record-low unemployment rates, coupled with continued monthly job creation, may encourage people to spend more during the holiday season. The economy is still growing, albeit at a slower rate. Additionally, we continue to see consumer confidence elevated, which also helps boost holiday spending." Web advertising exchange OpenX is equally optimistic. Roughly a third of consumers and half of the millennials surveyed expect to spend more this holiday season with an average spend upwards of $892. Additional results are showing that digital will effectively take over in-store with 68% of millennials expecting to use their phones to shop. These results are all well-and-good, but cautious optimism is prudent regarding the impact on retail profit margins. With liquidations still on the rise and the impact of tariff increases reaching the market, as consumers are looking for deals, pricing and merchandising strategies will likely get aggressive. Sales may go up, but the impact may not similarly translate to the bottom line.

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