Here they come...here they come...
Like I wrote last night, the more news that comes in about retail sales, the more it seems like the weekend snowstorm did have an effect on sales, and retailers are going to be hard pressed to match even last year’s sullen haul.
Redbook Research this morning noted that sales through the first three weeks of December rose 1.5% from a year ago. But they were expected to be up 2.1%, which means retailers will have to work that much harder to make their numbers.
“With three weeks gone from the five-week month, retailers are increasingly hedging their sales forecasts for December, indicating that the finish will have to be considerably stronger than originally assumed in order to bring them on target, Redbook says,” Newswires Karen Talley wrote this morning.
But that could be harder than expected, Reuters reports: “The heavy snowstorm that swept the East Coast of the United States over the weekend may have cost retailers the potential for any upside to holiday sales, industry experts said on Monday.”
That may drive retailers to bust out the heavy discounts that they’d hoped to avoid this year. Talley also wrote this morning that Gap is already “pulling the trigger,” offering 60% discounts on some items, as well as a host of other discounts. Talley said a salesperson at a Gap store on 6th Avenue in midtown Manhattan (across the street from our office, as it happens) said the store has signs on hand that offer bigger discounts, and “it’s up to corporate” to decide if they’re brought out.
Remember, last year was the first year in about four decades that holiday sales dropped, and if memory serves correctly, they’ve never fallen two years in a row. That’s the depressing mark retailers hope to avoid.
Addendum: Talley’s been working overtime on this one, and here’s her latest out just this afternoon:
Retailers lost billions of dollars in business on so-called Super Saturday because of the big East Coast storm, but other parts of the country also struggled that day. US retail sales fell to $6.9B from $7.9B last year, with the 12.6% decline the biggest since ShopperTrak began gathering the data in 2002. The Northeast saw a 17% decline on Saturday, and the South a 15% drop. But areas not affected by the big storms also saw declines, with sales in the Midwest dropping 10% and 7% in the West, ShopperTrak said.