The holiday shopping season will begin far earlier this year, according to a new forecast by Chicago-based ShopperTrak, a provider of shopper analytics.
“We have seen a continuing trend of sales increasing in November since 2004,” says ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin. “That is going to continue this year.”
He predicts that trend will be helped by a shortened holiday season—25 days, compared to 31 last year—as well as one less holiday weekend. Hanukkah also starts earlier than usual this year, the day after Thanksgiving.
Martin says that some major retailers are aware of this and are already starting their holiday promotions. He notes that Kmart unveiled its first Christmas ad in early September, and Costco is already selling Christmas trees.
ShopperTrak predicts that holiday sales will increase by a modest 2.4 percent.
“It’s the fourth year in a row we have growth in holiday sales, but each year, that growth has been slowing,” he says. “Still, you are growing on top of a higher number. Last year was the all-time champ, and this year should be a new reigning champion. And since we are in a low inflationary period, most of that will come from improved sales.”
However, he expects overall store traffic to decrease because of gas prices, consumer uncertainty, and the continued popularity of online.
Martin says he also expects some of e-commerce sector’s momentum to slow this year, with sales growth only rising by single digits—less than the double-digit increases it has been regularly posting for the last few years.
As for jewelry, he predicts it will do well.
“The luxury segment will do well this year,” he says. “I think jewelry is seeing a bit of a resurgence.”