US retailers are guardedly optimistic as holiday season nears
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/05/2012 -- It may be nearly a month before Halloween, and store decorations still feature witches, ghosts and goblins. U.S. retailers are already dreaming about the sugarplums of Christmas sales results. For some of them, November and December sales account for 40% of the year’s total.
The Buffalo News reports that in New York’s second-largest city, Christmas decorations can already be found at area malls. The Macy’s department store featuring a large display of Christmas giftware in its china and crystal department, including Spode china sets decorated with candy canes and Christmas trees.
Retailers interviewed by the paper voiced hopes that guarded confidence that recent consumer shopping patterns signal that shopper are ready to loosen their purse strings in the holiday season. One owner of a local toy store, who says his sales have improved over last year, also says he sees reason to believe the upcoming presidential election will boost retail sales. he stated that every four years “there's a wait-and-see attitude, and there's a collective sigh of relief, either way," once the election is over. Other local merchants also reported earlier shopping for holiday items.
The Washington-based National Retail Federation estimates that sales in the last two months of the year will be up 4.1% from last year, still over a full percentage point the growth in each of the last two years. That number marked the smallest gain since 2009. Even so, it would outpace the 3.5% average sales gain over the past ten years.
NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay notes that November-December retail sales are especially difficult to forecast this year. “There are so many uncertainties,” he stated, including rising prices for food and gas, consumer concerns about the economic recovery, and the impending elections.
Retail hiring of holiday sales help is also mean about 700,000 seasonal jobs, according to the appropriately-named Challenger, Gray & Christmas global personnel firm. That would be an increase from the 660,000 hired for the 2011 Christmas season; however, but still below the almost 747,000 workers in 2006. Like NRF’s Shay, the firm’s CEO John Challenger says there is “still too much uncertainty" for seasonal hiring to match pre-recession levels. Hiring plans among major retailers are mixed. Kohl’s says it plans to boost its holiday sales force by 10% over last year, while Target plans to keep holiday help hiring slightly below last year’s level.
HouseofChristmas.com.au (http://www.houseofchristmas.com.au/), now in its 19th year, is a family-owned and run business whose showroom and online service offer families and businesses a wide range of stylish xmas decorations, including pre-decorated full-size artificial xmas trees, delivered as kits with assembly instructions.
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