Holiday sales outlook ‘positive’; online sales booming

Patricia Huddleston, a professor of advertising, public relations and retailing, said online sales should increase to about $96 billion this year.

“Technology items and gift cards should do particularly well this year,” she said, “but all categories – apparel, cookware, toys, to name a few – are expected to see increases.”

One continuing trend that Huddleston noted this year is that the holiday season once again arrived earlier than last. For example, Target aired its first holiday commercials two weeks before Halloween.

“Many stores installed their holiday departments well before Halloween costumes were marked down,” Huddleston said. “This is evidence of the cutthroat competition for the $586 billion in holiday sales.”

In addition, many stores now will be open for business on Thanksgiving evening, “so as not to lose sales to the competitors,” Huddleston said.

The art of shopping itself this year will be a combination of retro and modern technology.

Due to the tough economy, a number of retailers are bringing back free layaway. But at the same time, shoppers are more dependent on their mobile devices.

“According to Google research,” Huddleston said, “four out of five shoppers will use smart phones for price comparison, store locations and to order online.”


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