Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

This year, a Christmas of blue jeans, not Blu-rays

October 6, 2009

As we mentioned on Shop Talk this morning, the National Retail Federation expects total holiday sales this year to fall 1 percent.

giftThe trade group held a conference call later in the day to add details about their forecast. Here is what NRF spokeswoman Ellen Davis said about the forces that will shape the upcoming holiday shopping season:


“The golden ticket this year for the holiday season is going to be unemployment. With the unemployment rate at about 10 percent, we know that a lot of Americans will be pulling back on the holiday season because they have to, because they don’t have a job or because someone in their family doesn’t have a job.

“But the unemployment picture really goes far beyond that 10 percent because anyone who knows someone who is out of a job, looking for work or is concerned about losing their job is going to be pulling back. You don’t want to be the guy who drives up in a brand new BMW if your neighbor just got laid off.”

Retailers’ efforts to prepare for this year’s impending holiday season:

“This year, retailers knew going in consumers would be very price conscious and frugal for the holiday season and they’ve been able to plan accordingly.

“They’re doing everything they can to cut back on their operating costs. They’re pulling back on inventory. As we have seen from NRF’s port tracker report, retail containers to the nations’ ports are down to the levels we saw in 2002 and 2003, which is an indicator that retailers really aren’t shipping as much to their stores as they may have been in previous years.

… That will help retailers protect their profits and will keep them from, we think, having to resort to any panicked, unplanned markdowns at the last minute because they have too much merchandise.”

What shoppers can expect to see in stores:

“For the holidays specifically, we are expecting retailers to focus on a lot of lower-ticket items. This will be the holiday season of the blue jean instead of the Blu-ray.

… Absent, we think except perhaps for Black Friday, will be a lot of promotions of flat screen TVs and laptops. So, really more of a focus on the basics, the necessities and the lower-priced items this holiday season.”

“We are expecting a lot of aggressive discounts and promotions. The good news … is that retailers should be able to protect their profit margins this year because they have been planning these sales and promotions throughout the holiday season. Because they have done a nice job controlling their inventory, retailers really won’t have as many issues with unplanned markdowns as they may have a year ago, but consumers may start to find that retailers are coming out with many aggressive promotions and deals very quickly.”

(Photo: Reuters)


Until the residential real estate crisis is properly addressed… and it has not… consumers will not consume… Christmas sales will be well below that 1% drop… “Black Friday” will be far worse that the “experts”predict… then, after another failed holiday sales season, the store closings will skyrocket, followed by more commercial real estate defaults…”it’s the foreclosures stupid… it’s the foreclosures”

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