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Sales Trends For This Holiday Season

With Black Friday 5 days away, the US kicks off this week its Holiday Season and there are high expectations to see who gets the biggest share of the sales pie: online or stores?

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The holiday season, defined by National Retailers Federation as sales in the months of November and December, is the biggest time of year for retailers of all shapes and sizes, and can account for as much as 30 percent of a retailer's annual sales. This year, NRF estimates that holiday sales will increase 3.7 percent to $630.5 billion.The average increase in holiday sales for the past 10 years is 2.5 percent.

According to the 2016 Deloitte holiday shopping survey, this holiday season will mark a major milestone, as shoppers plan on spending an equal amount online versus in stores. Consumers say that 47% of their holiday shopping budget will go to online spending, and 47% will go toward purchases inside physical stores. Based on the projected increases in online shopping, UPS is forecasting that its deliveries will rise nearly 17% from Thanksgiving through New Year's, compared with the same period in 2015.

Free Shipping Is Everywhere


Free shipping promotions abound throughout the holiday season. Like last year, both Best Buy and Target are offering free, no-minimum-purchase shipping throughout the holiday season; Target allows free delivery on returns too.

This is increasingly the cost of doing business for retailers trying to compete with Amazon, the online giant whose customers are more likely than not to be Prime members who enjoy free two-day shipping on most purchases. Partly because of Amazon, shoppers have come to expect that the shipping of online purchases should not only be free, but also fast. Roughly two-thirds of the consumers surveyed by Deloitte say that they should get free shipping even for orders placed after December 17 and still get delivery by Christmas. And 88% of consumers say that they wouldn’t pay a dime for expedited shipping.

Physical Retailers Are Stepping Up Their Game

Patrick T. Fallon / Getty Images / Via

Understanding what they’re up against in a world of Amazon and increased comfort with gift purchasing via smartphone, big brick-and-mortar retailers like Walmart, Target, and Toys R Us are trying to stand out with better service and more excitement in the stores. “What we see the leading retailers doing is creating emotional experiences in their stores,” explained Steven Barr, PwC’s U.S. retail and consumer leader, according to CBS News. “I like to say that a website can’t give you goosebumps.”

Specifically, Walmart is staffing stores with holiday helpers to assist shoppers find gifts and make purchases more quickly, while also boasting selfie stations and toy demos to liven things up. Target’s holiday strategiesinclude new value propositions, like $10 off $50 purchases for a rotating set of categories in the weeks leading up to Christmas, as well as Wondershop, a store-within-a-store concept stocked with 2,000 new seasonal items. Meanwhile, retailers like Kmart and Toys R Us are emphasizing deals and service with special offers focused on layaway and price matching, respectively.

Thanksgiving & Black Friday Shopping Keep Fading


After years of expanding shopping into the Thanksgiving holiday—along with much controversy and anger over the perceived ruining of sacred family time—many retailers seem to be accepting that it’s dumb to open early on Thanksgiving, or even to open at all. The Mall of America, for instance, decided to stay closed for Thanksgiving 2016 after being open for the past three holidays. Stores like Hhgregg and Office Depot/Office Max have also joined the long list of stores remaining closed on the holiday after being open in the past.

There are exceptions to this trend, however, such as Macy’s, which is opening an hour earlier on Thanksgiving than it did last year. But many stores seem well aware of how the majority of Americans feel about Thanksgiving shopping—82% say they hate it or are indifferent, according to a recent survey—so it’s increasingly not worth it for retailers to open on Turkey Day.

It would make sense that Black Friday would benefit from the de-emphasis on Thanksgiving shopping. But experts think this traditional day for kicking off the holiday shopping season will be somewhat meaningless in the grand scheme because there are so many deals before and after it. Both sales and foot traffic have fallen on recent Black Fridays, and more than half of shoppers say they don’t rely on Black Friday for deals as much as they did in the past, per the Deloitte survey.

For those of you that manufacture goods abroad and are interested in penetrating the American market, Ameriworld can assist you with our expertise and hands on experience to set up your local distribution in order to successfully compete as a local. Don’t watch the next US holiday season from the sidelines, be part of it!

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