Retail Holiday Outlook

Two independent surveys project the troublesome holiday outlook for retailers:

  1. According to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2008 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, U.S. consumers plan to spend an average of $832.36 on holiday-related shopping, up a paltry 1.9 percent over last year’s $816.69. This represents the lowest increase in planned consumer spending since the survey began in 2002.
  2. A Deloitte survey released Wednesday was a bit more bleak in its findings. Almost six in 10 consumers said they would reduce spending this holiday season. Shoppers plan to spend about $532 on gifts, down 6.5 percent from last year, and buy fewer items. Nearly seven in 10 consumers said they would wait for store sales, cut back on shopping trips to save gasoline and use more store coupons.

From an earlier post, I quoted BusinessWeek.com saying:

“Call it a customer service Christmas. Consumers are expected to rein in spending this year, and the retail climate favors big-box stores that can offer bargains. But because small retailers can’t win price wars, experts say independents need to leverage their biggest advantage over the chains: personal relationships with customers and the ability to deliver superior service. With some economists predicting one of the weakest Decembers since 1991, retailers that falter could face a cold winter.” For the entire story, click here.

Another good quote I came across today:

“In the current economic environment, consumers are looking for value,” said Stacy Janiak, Deloitte’s U.S. Retail leader. “Heading into the holiday season, retailers will be well-positioned by emphasizing their unique value propositions, whether that means price, customer service, loyalty programs, or some other metric important to their customer base. In addition, given the current credit situation, retailers should take a close look at their financing options and conduct scenario planning, particularly with respect to liquidity issues.”

Since retail firms in the Green Industry should NEVER compete solely on price, they MUST differentiate their product and service offerings. Refer back to previous posts on differentiation strategies (click on the differentiation link on the right-hand side of this page) as a reminder of why this is so important!

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