There are a lot of data about how the holiday season has gone so far, and how it is likely to go in the next two weeks. With just 14 shopping days until Christmas, there are a lot of sales left to be made — with some retailers’ health on the line.
The data about the holiday season has become an avalanche. The National Retail Federation reported only 9% of people had finished shopping after the Thanksgiving weekend. This week, comScore reported that desktop e-commerce had reached 11 straight days of sales over $1 billion, a record. However, the data did not include mobile sales, an essential portion of the market.
Some research indicates that Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) has a remarkable part of the online shopping business so far. United Parcel Service Inc. (NYSE: UPS) says its peak shipping day will be on December 16. Taken together, far too much information and far too few conclusions.
What do most analysts of the holiday shopping trends agree on? First, this may be the swan song for Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD), parent of Sears and Kmart. Or, not really. Founder, CEO and billionaire Eddie Lampert may bail out the company again with more loans. Post holidays, he may marshal his resources and right-size with more store closings. Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M) has its entire reputation as a first-tier retailer on the line. It is not going away as a company. What its role is as a national retailer is another matter.
There is a consensus that Amazon will come out of the holiday stronger, again. That might not be entirely true. Marketing, free shipping and rock bottom pricing have been weapons in the past. Wall Street has been depressed about its prospects after some quarters. Revenue goes up. Net income almost disappears. Amazon has spent too much to keep its status. This plays out every so often. The stock sells down. Then, Jeff Bezos comes up with some new invention or special program that is a magnet for customers. Amazon’s shares rise again.
Research firms will release data on the entire holiday season on December 26. After that comes data on late-year inventory clearing tactics by some retailers. Eventually, well into the first quarter of 2017, companies will start to release same-store sales and revenue figures. Many of the predictions will have been wrong, but if previous years are a good indicator, most of those will be forgotten.