Nov 25

Kenneth Katz: Holiday Shopping Season Predictions

Last year, the average shopper dropped $802.45 during the holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s supposed to rise this year, and Baker Katz founder Kenneth Katz expects Houston sales increases to beat the national average.

Despite headlines that view Houston as an uncertain economy, Kenneth says retailers are seeing very solid sales and growth here. He forecasts a strong boost in Christmas shopping locally, about 4% over 2014. Nationwide, holiday sales are anticipated to increase 3.7%, well over the 10-year average of 2.5%. Kenneth expects December to be slightly disappointing relative to the norm, but that’s just because (as we’ve all noticed) the holiday season is getting longer. November sales should make up for a dip in December.

According to JLL’s 2015 holiday sentiment report, spearheaded by JLL CEO of the Americas Greg Maloney, nearly half of retailers started their Christmas shopping season on Nov. 1, and one-third will open on Thanksgiving Day to kick off Black Friday early. Despite the creep, nearly 80% of respondents expect to earn up to 40% of their holiday sales during Thanksgiving/Black Friday. (But note: ICSC’s 2015 holiday shopper survey found that only 12% of people plan to hit the shops on Thanksgiving, versus 41% who will brave the crowds on Black Friday.) Internet sales are still on the rise, but Kenneth says brick-and-mortar is also increasing, just at a slower rate. But Black Friday remains primarily an in-store deal, he says.

Houston’s largest bike retailer, Bike Barn, can attest to the benefits of going omni-channel—Bike Barn’s John Kelly tells us his team has focused on building up its social media following to ensure ads for its in-store holiday shopping initiatives reach as many consumers as possible. Bike Barn offers an online store, but the nature of its product pushes the majority of its transactions in-store—people want to sit on a bike before buying it. John tells us they also mix up the merchandise for the holiday season, making sure to stock options for every price point from stocking stuffers to premium must-haves and listing them in a custom gift buying guide. The best seller each Christmas: kids’ bikes.