BY STEPHEN STRIBLING
‘Tis the season – the shopping season!
For most retailers, sales in November and December represent about 20 percent of their total sales for the year. While retailers typically tend to see a spike in sales around the holidays, the 2017 holiday season has been especially promising thus far.
The number of in-store and online shoppers is exceeding expectations. According to the most recent Retail Sales Report, including numbers for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, sales rose 0.08 percent in November, twice the projected forecast of some analysts.
In total, the National Retail Federation expects holiday retail sales to increase between 3.6 and 4 percent this holiday season for a total of up to $682 billion. This is a fairly significant jump from the nearly $655 billion consumers spent this time last year.
Black Friday—named for the day retailers began to switch from red ink, showing losses, to black ink, showing gains—used to be the most significant shopping day. While Black Friday is still the biggest day for in-store shopping, big holiday spending now spans over several days. According to the NRF, more than 174 million Americans purchased something either in stores or online over the five-day holiday weekend taking place Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday. That figure certainly beat the 164 million shoppers originally expected this year.
Sales on Cyber Monday, in particular, broke all-time records to become the biggest U.S. online-shopping day ever. With a record $6.59 billion spent on Cyber Monday alone, online sales grew 17 percent from last year.
This uptick in spending, plus a longer shopping season this year, spells good news for retailers. There are four weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, giving shoppers even more time to shop and make those holiday purchases.
We’ll have to wait until January to see the final numbers, but if spending trends over the holidays are a good litmus test for the general state of the economy, I’d say things are looking moderately healthy.
Stephen Stribling is a financial advisor with the Global Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley in Denver.
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