Retail sales growth is expected to be modest at year-end, while e-commerce racks up double-digit gains
A leading retail association has lowered its forecast overall for 2017, but expects U.S. sales this fall and during the winter holiday season and year-end to be a bit stronger.
In September, after looking at revised first-quarter retail sales, income and consumption numbers from the U.S. government, the Washington, D.C.-based National Retail Federation reissued its 2017 forecast. It now expects retail sales to increase between 3.2% and 3.8% for the year—rather than the 3.7% to 4.2% gain projected earlier.
“While weaker-than-expected spending in the first quarter along with decelerating inflation … also contributed to the revision, NRF anticipates stronger sales heading into the fall and holiday seasons,” says Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist. NRF projections exclude automobile, gasoline station and restaurant sales.
eMarketer, a New York-based digital marketing research firm, is projecting modest overall gains in holiday sales this season of 3.1% but predicts a robust 16.6% jump in e-commerce, which would push e-commerce’s share of total holiday sales to a record 11.5%.
The holiday shopping season is expected to continue its trend of inching forward in terms of the calendar, eMarketer says. The biggest shopping months continue to be November and December but nearly one-third of consumers surveyed last year said they started holiday shopping in October or even earlier. eMarketer predicts the proportion of shoppers getting a jump on things this holiday season will be even larger.
NetElixir, a search marketing firm headquartered in Princeton, New Jersey, is less bullish than eMarketer, but still projects e-commerce sales will grow by 10% this year when compared with 2016.
One big area of agreement between eMarketer and NetElixir: A few major online marketplaces, most notably Amazon, will gobble up a huge chunk of the increase in online sales for themselves.
“Amazon’s share will continue to increase, driven by aggressive promotions, growth of the marketplace, and new devices like the Echo and Echo Dot,” according to NetElixir. Given that, NetElixir expects Amazon’s share of total online holiday sales to be a staggering 34% in 2017.