This year’s holiday shopping season does not appear to be much better than last year’s. The National Retail Federation (NRF) has said that a survey of consumers indicated average spending per person this year will be $805.65, up just $3.20 compared with 2014. Almost half (46%) of holiday browsing and spending will take place online, up 2 percentage points over last year.
Some retail analysts are blaming the year-over-year flatness to a lack of exciting new (and expensive) products. That means the holiday shopping season will be all about promotions and there’s scant profit there.
At website BestBlackFriday.com, Wal-Mart gets the nod as the winner of the Black Friday shopping sweepstakes:
They are going to run three different doorbuster events, the first starting on Thanksgiving night. They will also bring back their hugely popular ad match and 1-hour guarantee. The ad match means they will literally match the price that any competitor is offering for the same product, in retail stores only. The 1-hour guarantee means that if any of the top doorbusters available during Event 1 are sold out in the first hour before you have a chance to purchase them, Walmart offers you a limited window to buy them after Black Friday at the same price. While other stores will be opening at 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving or earlier, Walmart is likely to stick to their 6 p.m. opening time for Event 1.
The overall Black Friday discount is forecast at 39.55%, according to BestBlackFriday, and the shopping site expects a Wal-Mart discount range 30% to 35%. By comparison, the expected discount at J.C. Penney stores is projected at 60% to 65%, with discounts at Macy’s and Sears averaging 50% to 55%.
Total Black Friday spending totaled $9.1 billion a year ago and is expected to reach just $8.8 billion this year. Thanksgiving Day spending is expected to rise from $3.19 billion a year ago to $3.79 billion this year. Retailers appear to be pulling Black Friday sales forward rather than actually raising them: the two-day total for last year is $12.29 billion and the two-day estimate for this year totals $12.59 billion.
The short answer to our earlier questions is that the 2015 holiday shopping season is not likely to provide much solace to Wal-Mart executives or investors. The stock closed down about 1% Friday at $58.30 after posting a new 52-week low of $58.22. The 52-week high is $90.97.