The outlook for holiday retail sales is upbeat. It is doubtful the Grinch will be visiting Colorado this Christmas season. Most likely he will be in parts of Europe, Japan, and Mexico where the economy is not as strong.
The National Retail Federation expects holiday sales to increase by 4.1% this November and December compared to a 3.1% increase last year. Over the past 10 years, average holiday growth has been about 2.9%. In other words, lower unemployment rates and an improved economy means retail trade sales this holiday season will be above average.
Sales in November and December (excluding autos, gasoline, and restaurant sales) represent about 19.2% of the annual total. Nationally, up to 800,000 workers will be hired on a seasonal basis for November and December. Online sales will increase by 8% to 11%.
The optimistic expectations for national retail sales bode well for Colorado. The Colorado Legislative Council and the Office of State Planning and Budgeting expect Colorado’s 2014 annual retail sales to be 6.0% greater than last year. Given the strength of the state economy, holiday sales should easily exceed the national projected growth rate of 4.1% and may exceed the 6.0% projection for the year.
Colorado average retail trade employment in November and December is about 10,000 workers greater than the average for the other 10 months of the year. A similar increase in retail employment should be expected in 2014.
Over the past decade consumers have become accustomed to deep discounting during the holiday season. Despite an outlook for a brisk holiday season, there will likely be a sufficient number of markdowns and bargain basement deals. As the t-shirts on consumers in the local mall say, “Stay Calm and Shop On” or is it “Stay Calm and Shop Online.”