Retailers, consumers and prices
Check Out Line: Moment of truth about holiday sales
Check out the upbeat but cautious forecasts for holiday sales in the U.S. and the U.K. ahead of their release later this week.
Most U.S. retailers are set to post December sales later this week and let us know just how much better things have gotten since the disastrous 2008 holiday season. They’ll need all the good news they can get — holiday sales can account for as much as 40 percent of annual sales.
Analysts forecast sales at 30 U.S. retail chains tracked by Thomson Reuters Data will have risen by 1.3 percent in December, after a slow start to the holiday season in November. All in all, discount retailers such as Target and BJ’s Wholesale are expected to have fared best for the season, while teen apparel stores like Aeropostale languish.
But analysts have sounded a note of caution, predicting victory could be short lived with consumers expected to resume their penny-pinching ways this spring.
On the other side of the pond, it’s much the same story. U.K. retailers are also set to release Christmas results later this week and show improvement over a calamitous 2008 holiday season. But some of those gains may have been artificially pumped by consumers bringing forward their spending before a hike in a value-added tax, and analysts are concerned about how slowly the U.K. is rebounding.