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Retailers head into the final holiday sprint dogged by a Covid surge


On Thursday, December 2, 20,21, pedestrians look at the holiday windows of a New York City store.

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Retailers are gearing up to meet the Christmas rush as Christmas is fast approaching.

Stores and retail websites are expected to draw more than 148 million shoppers on Saturday, according to an annual survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. It’s slightly less than the Super Saturday last Saturday of December, also known as Super Saturday. In 2019, 150 million people were predicted to show up, which was significantly higher than the estimated number of 147 millions shoppers.

However, this year’s final sprint may be affected by conflicting and new factors. Consumers may be less likely to purchase if there is a strong surge in holiday shopping early. The warmer weather could mean that people are more likely to drive to the mall, or feel less festive. An increase in Covid-19-related cases in the Northeast or Midwest may cause events to be cancelled or encourage shoppers to shop online for goods or book tickets to concerts or other travel arrangements.

Contradictory clues

Steph Wissink from Jefferies is a retail analyst. However, they often tell completely different stories. Consumer confidence is one of them. plunged to a 10-year low in November. Retail sales are rising but were weaker than expected in November. Several industry watchers as well as retail trade groups including NRF have also provided this insight. predicted record-breaking holiday salesEven after a year filled with supply chain problems and inflation, this is still a good result.

She said that most data points pointed in the same direction and all point to the same outcome. Right now there are contradicting data points. We are trying to figure out, “What will the consumer do?”

She said that the omicron version has caused “a bummer impact” in that people have had to rethink their travel plans and scale back social gatherings.

This was evident in the survey that the equity research company conducted on Tuesday with 960 respondents. About half of respondents — 49% — said they plan to travel for the holidays this year. It’s down from November’s survey which found 55% intended to travel. Around 85% stated this month they will be gathering with their friends and families for the holidays. This is a 33% decrease month-over month.

The survey revealed that more shoppers have difficulty finding products. A survey revealed that 44 percent of respondents could not make a holiday shopping purchase because of out-of-stocks, which is a seven-point jump month-over-month.

Wissink suggested that different scenarios might play out over the next week. There may be lots of people shopping, which could lead to an increase on store foot traffic. The possibility is that they will feel trapped in the middle after finishing holiday shopping early and waiting to see if Zoom calls are made. You could be stuck in the middle, shopping for Christmas but not because inflation is a factor.

She indicated that she is monitoring whether retailers reduce prices or offer two-day free shipping during the week ahead, as this could signal that there are difficulties moving merchandise.

There are many choices for procrastinators

TargetCustomers can order online same day up to 6 pm on Christmas Eve, and they will be picked up within a few hours in the store or the lot. There is no pickup window.

Shipt also offers home delivery, which allows customers to have gifts delivered within an hour. The last delivery window is between Christmas Eve at 6 and 5 p.m. The company stated that trucks make daily deliveries to stores in order to replenish stock with toys, clothing and other gift options.

Kohl’sThe store will be open seven days a week from Monday through Friday, and the doors will remain open at all hours from 7 am to midnight on Saturday through Thursday. If you place your order by noon local time on Christmas Eve, you can collect them at the shop by 6 pm local time.

WalmartOrders placed by 2 p.m. on Monday will be eligible for free shipping. However, customers who order online can pick up their purchases curbside and have them delivered to their home between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Customers can choose Express Delivery, which delivers their purchases directly to their doorstep within two hours of placing an order. This is available if the orders are placed before 1 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Rosy Forecasts: For sales and weather

NPD is a large retail trade organization that has increased its prediction of holiday spending. hit a record high. According to the company, November and December sales could increase 8.5%-10.5% over last year and reach between $834.4 billion-$859 billion. The forecast was revised earlier this month. saying that spending was on track to grow by as much as 11.5% year over year.This forecast does not include spending at gas stations, automobile dealers and restaurants.

NPD’s early December survey found that 42% more people plan on buying their last Christmas gift this year. This is an increase of 40% from last year and 30% from 2012 when NPD asked this question to consumers.

According to NPD, 52 percent of respondents said that they expected to buy last-minute gifts within the week leading up to Christmas.

The weather may also play a role in how people shop and what products they purchase. According to Evan Gold, Executive Vice President of Global Partnerships and Alliances at Planalytics (a company that forecasts and analyses consumer demand), retail sales are expected to be a strong trend this year.

The U.S. has experienced mild weather in most of its regions, and this week could be the warmest since over 60-years.

The temperatures next week are likely to be lower than usual in Canada and parts of the Northeast, as well as the West Coast. However, they will still be warmer in the Southeast, Central and Central regions. The West Coast will see the most rain and snow, with higher elevations.

That means that customers won’t be detracted by inclement weather like ice and snow and can get to the malls and stores — which is key since some retailers’ shipping cutoffs have passed, he said. He did however note that “light snowfall” can help in some markets to attract seasonal demand.

Gold noted that temperatures in January are likely to fall compared to a year earlier and will help merchandise move at the end the retailers’ holiday quarter. He said that this could allow people to redeem gift cards and clear out cold-related products, such as snowblowers or winter coats.

Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners said that retailers could increase sales by making last-minute purchases. Procrastinators and people looking to spread large purchases across two credit cards are likely to make jewelry purchases late in the season, Johnson said. Another reason to use fragrances is pricey gift that’s often purchased late.

Shop traffic made a comeback from a year ago on Black Friday. Johnson explained that with the increase in omicron online shopping, shoppers might be tempted to buy again and have their purchases delivered curbside for them.

“There will not be any reduction in sales. But there will be a change in the channel, from in-person selling to online buying, and going back in the opposite direction,” he stated.