In a proprietary survey, Citi’s excellent retail analyst Deborah Weinswig found that 21% of consumers plan to start their holiday shopping earlier this year, and 70% plan to start before Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving). Thus we should expect a sales kick pretty soon.
She also believes the U.S. consumer will make a modest come back this year, resulting in 1 – 2% same store sales growth this season. This compares to a 2.1% drop last year, and a tiny 0.6% increase in 2007. It’ll still be nothing like 1999’s 7.9% figure.
Americans are likely to remain value-conscious whereby discount retailers and online portals will see relative strength, but if spending picks up or even just holds its ground vs. last year, then it would support the argument that the consumer is on the mend, if ever so slowly. Regardless, this author will stick with his time-tested deep value strategy – buying gifts after Christmas.
(Charts via Citi Investment Research, “Holiday 2009 Outlook”, Deborah Weinswig, 29 October 2009)
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