Research Analyst: Holiday Retail “Could Be the Most Challenging” Ever

christmasSALECharleston, SC—While most recent holiday sales estimates predicted a tougher holiday retail season that previously expected, the latest from America’s Research Group (ARG) found that wary, budget-conscious consumers are struggling this year even more than believed and will be scrutinizing sales more than ever.

According to ARG surveys:

●33% of American families are making less money as a result of job-loss of moving from a full- to a part-time job and/or of working a job that pays less than a previous one did.

●40% of parents are trying to save as much money as they can for their children’s college education.

●38% of families did not take a vacation this year of four days or longer.

●44% of parents will do most of their back-to-school apparel shopping in December when the deals are better.

Basically, said Britt Beemer, chairman/ceo at ARG, “40% are struggling and the rest are just trying to deal with the economic challenges around them. What is being portrayed after more than 30 years of doing back-to-school and other consumer behavior surveys is that retail sales—which are dismal except for Christmas time—will go into the Christmas season with no retail momentum and will evolve into what could be the most challenging Christmas season in the history of America.”

‘Excessively Aggressive Discount Strategy’

Beemer said many recent economic reports suggested that the U.S. recovery, though show, is continuing along. ARG, however, maintains a recovery is not taking place.

“In essence, you have two out of five parents saying things aren’t good—and it is crucial that we look at this as the holiday season approaches,” Beemer said. “Our back-to-school survey showed another important fact–23% of parents told us they are spending more on shoes than apparel this year and why is that? Because parents will not force their children to live in pain. That statistic is at an all-time high in 23 years of doing that survey. Apparel can now wait from the usual back-to-school season until December when the deals are better.”

When asked what retailers need to do in response, Beemer said they need to listen to American consumers and offer more “affordable products available to them and ways in which they can purchase them that make sense. Up until now, what businesses have done on a large scale is to cut expenses–fine for business but Americans households are not motivated by lower expenses. 74% of adults tell us they are more sale-priced driven today than ever before; and, therefore, motivating the consumer in the days leading up to the holidays—with their current mindset – is going to involve an excessively aggressive discount strategy with incredible offers. Consumers will be looking for bigger discounts than ever before—or, more likely, they will not shop at all.”

About ARG Surveys

The ARG research consisted of three national surveys: one conducted the first weekend in October; a back-to-school shopping survey conducted the second week in July; and the post labor day survey conducted the weekend after Labor Day weekend. The ARG research for each survey consisted of 1,000 telephone interviews. The error factor in each was plus or minus 3.8%. hwww.argconsumer.com

 

 

 

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Jeff Prine, Editor at Large, Accessories Magazine
Jeff returns as a regular contributor to Accessories magazine. Initially Jeff worked as senior editor at Accessories more than 20 years ago and his love of the industry has followed him until present. Since his tenure here, Jeff has continued to report jewelry, watch and other luxury goods trends as executive editor at Modern Jeweler magazine, fashion director at Lustre, and as contributor on products and trends for consumer and trade publications and websites. In addition to his editorial experience, Jeff also served as an adjunct instructor for accessories merchandising at Fashion Institute of Technology. jeffp@busjour.com