Retail

Black Friday Retail Sales Outlook Dims

Paul Ausick

US retailers expect holiday sales to experience weaker growth than last year’s 5.2% increase. For Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, retail sales growth is pegged at an increase of 1.6%. less than half last year’s 3.8% growth.

These figures come from research firm BDO USA based on a survey of chief marketing officers at US retailers, who also expect another year of markdowns and discounts as retailers work to clear inventory. More than three-quarters of retailers expect promotion pricing to increase this year. BDO expects total holiday sales to rise just 2.9% compared with the 2010 holiday season.

None of this is a big surprise. High unemployment, stagnant wages, and low consumer confidence continue to plague retailers. Store traffic is down and retailers are trying to persuade each customer to buy just a little extra something in an effort to boost revenue.

Competition from web-based stores doesn’t just hit the bricks-and-mortar retailers by customers who now shop online. Comparison shopping on the web means that customers arrive at a store with a particular model and particular price in mind. They buy what they came for and leave. As a result, store traffic is down and retailers are trying to persuade each customer to buy just a little extra something in an effort to boost revenue.

This year’s holiday shopping season is shaping up to be considerably softer than last year’s. By the time December 25th rolls around, any increase is likely to be viewed as a victory for retailers.

Paul Ausick