Deloitte said Wednesday that its retail and distribution practice pegs overall holiday sales at $1.04 trillion to $1.05 trillion between November and January. The total is seasonally adjusted and excludes motor vehicles and fuel.
“The projected uptick in holiday sales ties to four primary factors affecting consumer spending, starting with anticipated strong personal income growth,” Deloitte senior U.S. economist Daniel Bachman said in a statement. “Last year, disposable personal income grew 2% over the year to the holiday period, and we may see that rise to a range of 3.8% to 4.2% this season.
“Consumer confidence remains elevated, the labor market is strong and the personal savings rate should remain stable at its current low level,” Bachman noted.
For the 2017 holiday retail sales season, Deloitte expects an even bigger increase in online retail sales. The consultancy forecasts holiday e-commerce sales to rise 18% to 21% from last year, totaling $111 billion to $114 billion for the 2017 season.
Potential headwinds to holiday retail sales growth include an increased consumer savings rate, which would slow holiday retail spending, and the possibility of a government debt ceiling crisis, which could cut employment and income growth, according to Deloitte.
Meanwhile, two of the nation’s most populous states — Texas and Florida — continue to recover from the devastation wrought by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. However, Deloitte said the impact of this year’s active hurricane season is too early to project, since it could harness spending or boost it, namely in the home improvement sector due to rebuilding from the storms.
“Sentiment and spending indicators are firing on all cylinders. But the question is, how will retailers respond given the profound disruption across the industry?” according to Rod Sides, vice chairman of Deloitte LLP and U.S. retail and distribution sector leader. “The good news is retail is thriving, and it is the proliferation of new, niche retailers that is resulting in share constantly changing hands.”
Last season, retail holiday sales between November 2016 and January 2017 (seasonally adjusted and excluding autos and fuel) rose 3.6% and totaled $1 trillion, Deloitte reported, citing U.S. Commerce Department figures. E-commerce sales in that time frame (seasonally adjusted and excluding fuel, vehicles and parts dealers, and food services) surged 14.3% to $93.8 billion.
“Consumers have unlimited alternatives and often bounce between brands, touchpoints and influencers, making it more difficult for retailers to attract shoppers without some level of customization. These disruptive factors are likely to combine to create a highly competitive and promotional holiday season,” Sides added. “Retailers should modify their assumptions about what drives traffic, engagement and holiday sales growth, and realign around customer experience, creating relevant, emotional and inspirational connections that go beyond just product, price and assortment.”