Thursday, November 26, 2015

Retailers Brace for Massive Holiday Onslaught

A shopping onslaught. Not a terrorist onslaught, or at least we hope.

At the Los Angeles Times, "Target and other retailers brace for holiday shopping onslaught":
At the Target store in Eagle Rock, workers are sprinting to get ready for the retail world's equivalent of the Super Bowl: Black Friday.

The store will throw open its doors on Thanksgiving at 6 p.m. to welcome crowds of shoppers eager to score deals after stuffing themselves with turkey and pie.

"It's a huge day for us," store manager Gilbert Diaz said of the Thursday-into-Friday shopathon. "It's probably the best time of the year."

In recent weeks, consumers have been sending mixed signals about how spendy they're feeling for the holidays.

Consumer confidence rose sluggishly in November, according to the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index, released Wednesday. The increase to 91.3 from 90 the month before was less than economists had forecast and down from the preliminary estimate of 93.1 earlier in the month.

Consumer spending managed only a modest 0.1% increase in October, the second straight month of weakness, even though personal income jumped 0.4%, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

That means people are saving rather than buying, economists said, with the silver lining being that they might be saving to spend on presents and holiday fripperies. Consumer spending isn't a frivolous measurement because it accounts for about two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

Macy's and Nordstrom said this month that slow shopper traffic led to disappointing third-quarter financial results and higher inventory levels. Retail sales in October edged up only slightly after two flat months, Commerce Department data show.

Target and other merchants need to do well on Black Friday, which traditionally kicks off the crucial holiday shopping season. Retailers can earn up to 40% of their annual revenue during the last few months of the year.

The National Retail Federation trade group forecasts that sales during November and December will climb 3.7% to $630.5 billion, slightly below the 4.1% growth of 2014.

To handle that kind of festive consumerism requires lots of planning at Target and retailers across the nation...