But during a conference call on Dec. 1, neither NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay or Prosper’s Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow seemed to be alarmed by the drop-off in Thanksgiving weekend sales figures.
“This is a snapshot of the four day period,” Shay said, “I will stick with our prediction, that holiday sales will be up 3.9%.”
Shay said the shortness of the 2013 holiday shopping season cannot be stressed enough when you look at the Thanksgiving Weekend retail transactions. A look at November retail sales prior to Thanksgiving show consumers have been out shopping all month, well in advance of the traditional Black Friday kickoff.
“From all the surveys we’ve done, we know there have been people shopping (for the holidays) all year long – 25% of consumers have been shopping for last six months,” Shay said. “Despite what all the economic indicators tell us, for too many Americans, things aren’t that great. We can’t tell them when to start their holiday shopping.”
Goodfellow said shoppers on average are doing some belt tightening, and that the general theme is that people are watching what they spend, and are doing the holiday season on a budget.
And Goodfellow added the shortness of the holiday shopping season has meant retailers have been more promotional than ever to get consumers shopping in store or online.
“Usually a lull (in sales) until mid-December, but it’s been a very promotional season so I think momentum will continue,” Goodfellow said. “Retailers are going to be very aggressive with promotions. The ones who are most aggressive are going to grab those holiday dollars.”
The last time there was not year-over-year growth during the holiday season was in 2008, when the banking and housing crises began, and 2009, the first year of The Great Recession.