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The American consumer has been feeling more upbeat since the end of the summer, said IHS Global Insight. Recent news on the consumer front has been favorable; wage increases are likely to outpace consumer price increases; housing seems to be showing some traction; consumer confidence is elevated; and [fuel] pump prices have been falling.
Many retailers have already started hard and deep price discounting, and a significant number of chain-stores opened their doors on Thanksgiving Day – Grey Thursday – before Black Friday. The game changer on the retail front is that online retail sales are clearly outpacing all other channels. Clicks are outpacing bricks. Many traditional brick-and-mortar stores have looked to cyberspace in order to boost their revenues.
IHS Global Insight expects holiday retail sales to rise 3.9 percent above last year, not as strong as the past couple of years, but a solid showing. In 2010 and 2011 holiday retail sales grew approximately 5.5 percent compared to the previous year. However, online holiday sales are clearly growing at a faster pace.
IHS Global Insight said online holiday retail sales will rise 17 percent above last year, significantly stronger than 2011's 16 percent increase, and 2010's 14 percent increase. One reason that several brick-and-mortar stores opened their doors on Thanksgiving Day was that online stores are open 24/7. Last year's holiday online retail sales amounted to a little over $67 billion and this year's holiday online retail sales are projected to be in the $79 billion ballpark. This is no longer chump-change by any means. And, the bricks are looking to cash in on the clicks, said IHS Global Insight.
Holiday retail sales are defined as not seasonally adjusted November plus December total retail sales less autos, less gasoline, less food services, explains IHS Global Insight. And, online holiday sales are defined as not seasonally adjusted November plus December electronic shopping and mail order retail sales.