2018’s Holiday Sales Outperform Retailers’ Predictions

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The days of long, unruly lines and 24-hour camp-outs in front of major retail locations appears to be a spectacle of the past. Shoppers tired of playing retailers’ hold-out games in order to get the best prices on holiday purchases have changed the long-standing dynamics of Black Friday shopping. Historically the absolute best shopping day of the year for retailers, the day after Thanksgiving in 2018 saw a significant shift in shoppers’ antics. Still the best day of sales for retailers across the spectrum, Black Friday was less stressful for customers. The increasing popularity of online retailers and major big box stores breaking with early promotions resulted in a much more civil launch to the Holiday shopping season.

Online spending was predicted to see big gains and reality did not disappoint the prognosticators’ early predictions. Online spending reached $3.7 billion on Thanksgiving Day, up 28 percent from previous years. Four-day Black Friday weekend sales totaled about $60 billion, according to retail advisory firm Customer Growth Partners. Smart phone sales set new records with customers using their smart devices to spend $2.0 billion.

Apparel retailers found new favor from consumers with an 8 percent increase in sales. Black Friday weekend saw several major retailers out in front of their best predictions. “Not all apparel is doing great,” said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners. “The biggest growth over the past few months has stemmed from activewear retailers like Nike and off-price companies like T.J. Maxx..” In general, brick and mortar and online retailers experienced their best performance in decades. “In sales terms, this has definitely been a very strong holiday — one of the best since 1999,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of research firm GlobalData Retail. “Momentum in the consumer economy, confident shoppers and more discipline from retailers have all helped to boost spending.”

Department store sales were down 1.3 percent from November 1 through Christmas due mainly to an inability to capture an increase in their online channels. Store closures also muted holiday sales as traditional department stores reposition brick and mortar strategies. Successful smaller retailers are transforming stores to meet the specific needs of local markets and customers resulting in a new and popular shopping environment that is drawing favor from consumers.

All in all, the 2018 holiday shopping season delivered on predictions and resulted in a much appreciated Merry and Happy holiday for retailers across America.