Mapping the retail holiday sales calendar...
Retailers don’t want to miss any opportunity to do more than regular business, so a lot of focus today is on planning for those special occasions that bring in shoppers – be it Valentine, Easter, Mother’s Day or Fourth of July. Holiday calendars are prepared in advance and strategies built on how to woo customers, both offline and online. These holidays have further gained significance as retail sentiments have been down over the last few years, and every opportunity to improve sales is a matter to rejoice. This year too, holiday sales have attracted a lot of attention and the big positive is that the sales have been very good on these special days so far and the industry is seeing this as an indication of how the next 6 months of the year will play out.
The biggest holiday season, of course, is Christmas and the sales last Christmas have really set the tone for retail recovery in 2018. After analysing consumer spending at more than 1.3 million merchant locations in the US over the holiday shopping season, First Data revealed it was the strongest in four years. Overall growth for the entire holiday season was up 6.2% from the previous year, which was at 4.7%. Significantly, brick-and-mortar fared better in average ticket sales, going up by 1.9% while e-commerce was down by 2.1%. January is usually a modest month for retail, as shoppers have had their fill during the holiday seasons, though the month has two significant dates that call for celebration – New Year’s Day and Martin Luther King Day.
This year, sales at US retailers fell by 0.3% in January – the biggest drop in almost a year, whipping out increase in sales in December. Many analysts feel that despite the drop, the signs are positive. “I suspect that the January weakness reflects in part the terrible weather during the month,” said Chief Economist Stephen Stanley of Amherst Pierpont Securities.
Added Stuart Hoffman, Senior Economic Adviser at PNC Financial Services, “This is a temporary pause in consumer spending following a strong holiday sales season.” Both predicted stronger sales for February. No doubt, February is an interesting month for retailers, as love is in the air. Of all the holidays that fall in February – including Groundhog Day, President’s Day, and Lunar New Year – Valentine’s Day is arguably the most important for any retailer. The NRF reported that Valentine’s Day, which ranks behind the Christmas holiday, Mother’s Day and Easter in terms of spending, will see spending in apparel of around US $ 1.9 billion on Valentine Day. Apparel accounts for 17% of estimated sector spending during this season of love.
However, in spite of solid hiring dynamics and consumer sentiment at a near two-decade high, retail sales disappointed in February, as retail sales fell 0.1% in month-on-month terms, well below market expectations of a 0.4% increase for the month. In annual terms, growth in retail sales edged up marginally to 4.0% in February from an upwardly revised 3.9% increase recorded in January (previously reported: +3.6% yearon-year). Annual average retail sales growth was down a notch to 4.4% in February, below 4.5% in January. Although consumers seemed to have had a weak start to the year, the late disbursement of income tax refunds was expected to shore up sales in March which signifies First Day of Spring and offsets some of the softness observed in January and February. Just like January, March can’t boast a great number of holidays, but St. Patrick’s Day – an Irish-turned-international holiday, an ideal time for social get-togethers, is considered an untapped pot of gold for retailers. The month did not disappoint and retail sales expanded 0.6% in month-on-month terms in March, rebounding from February’s 0.1% fall and beating market expectations of a 0.4% expansion, though clothing and accessories stores reported lower sales.
If there’s one holiday that the month of April is known, it is the April Fool’s
May is the month of M’s: Memorial Day and Mother’s Day, both fall in May, the former marking the unofficial beginning of summer. Taking advantage of these holidays, retailers start offering discounts, offers and special sales. This month is also special for green-minded shops and customers, as Earth Day is celebrated and greater emphasis is made for stocking up reusable and recycled products.
Day – high time for jokes, prank calls and party gifts. This year Easter also fell on the first of April, which saw spending of around US $ 18.2 billion this year, almost on par from a record US $ 18.4 billion in 2017. Overall, retail sales expanded 0.3% over the previous month and clothing and accessories stores experienced a rebound in sales. Annual average retail sales growth was steady at 4.4% in April. Despite weaker sales growth compared to March, the April data suggests retail sales could continue to firm up in the second quarter, supported by rising wages and tax refunds.
May is the month of M’s: Memorial Day and Mother’s Day, both fall in May, the former marking the unofficial beginning of summer. Taking advantage of these holidays, retailers start offering discounts, offers and special sales. This month is also special for green-minded shops and customers, as Earth Day is celebrated and greater emphasis is made for stocking up reusable and recycled products. Not to forget the retail opportunities that Super Bowl, the annual championship of the National Football League, which has achieved cult-like status in the US, provides to retailers. Though data for actual spending May is still not available, NRF predicts that for only the second time in 15 years, total retail spending for Mother’s Day this year is estimated to exceed US $ 23 billion.
Only five months have gone and many more special days lie ahead. With June, summer is at the doorstep and while May was largely about Mother’s Day, June is all about proud dads. For people who enjoy sun and outdoors activities, July marks the start of outdoor activities like swimming, picnics, barbecue. July is the time for proud Americans to celebrate Independence Day, with many promotions, special deals and discounts on offer, across many categories.
September is the beginning of a new season and people in the US look forward to say farewell to summer with Autumn purchases. Labour Day, which falls on the first Monday of September, is the unofficial start of the Fall. October enjoys popularity as the month of Halloween. Scary masks, costumes, haunted homes and creepy props US – Halloween is a field day for all retailers selling spooky things. In November, the preparations for X-mas start in earnest. Other than that, there’s Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, and of course, Black Friday and Cyber Monday when shoppers go crazy on deals!
From time immemorial, holidays have been a reason for businesses around the world to pep up…; obviously because holidays are a time when businesses can better cater to their client base and improve footfall.