The Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) and The Strawhecker Group (TSG) have released their 2017 Holiday Spending Report Card, which indicates an extremely healthy U.S. holiday shopping season. The report analyzes same-store sales from over 3.5 million card-accepting U.S. merchants to project year-over-year growth. Holiday season sales will be driven primarily from strength in the Northeast region, and growth nationally at hotels, restaurants, shoe stores, and building material stores.
“Low unemployment, coupled with consumer confidence near a 17-year high, is bolstering an already healthy economy,” states Jared Drieling, director of business intelligence of TSG. “Coming into this holiday season, shoppers have seen an increase in personal income—especially disposable income—which is helping build off of a 2016 holiday season that was one of the best in years.”
Holiday Shopping Season Continues to Shift Earlier
The holiday season no longer begins the day after Thanksgiving. In 2017, big-box retailers began to aggressive push holiday promotions in early November, expanding traditional Black Friday deals into the first part of the month. Consumers are following retailers’ lead and conducting much of their holiday shopping in November, building on the tremendous growth from the previous year (3.9% growth in 2017 and 6.5% growth in 2016).
Sales Growth Seen Outside of Traditional Holiday Retailers
While overall year-over-year spending during the season is projected to grow, not all retailers will benefit. Sales from non-traditional leisure retailers will be the big winners, indicating a rise in experiences rather than goods.
“Shoppers are coming to stores willing to spend this holiday season. Two of the big trends for 2017 holiday spending are the rise of experiences and an earlier start to the holiday shopping season,” says Jason Oxman, CEO of ETA. “Holiday shoppers aren’t spending only at traditional retailers, but are spending more on restaurants and hotels. The 2017 holiday season inches earlier into the year as big box retailers start ‘Black Friday’ deals as early as November 1.”
Spending at restaurants/eating places (up 3.8% in November and 3.6% in December) and hotels/lodging (up 4.3% in November and 4.2% in December) are the top winners in national sales year-over-year growth this season. Promising growth from shoe stores (up 12.7% in November and 10.1% in December) and lumber and building material stores (up 10.7% in November and 10.2% in December) will contribute to overall spending growth.
Big box retailers are impacting sales at vertical retailers of traditional holiday gifts as consumers use general merchandise stores as one-stop shops for all their purchases. Sporting goods (-6.3% in November and -4.6% in December) and jewelry stores (zero growth in November and -3.2% in December) will experience declining or little year-over-year growth.
Strong Sales in the Northeast Contribute to Robust Growth
Retailers in the Northeast expect to see the strongest year-over-year growth (November 6.4% and December 5.3%) while the Southwest trails behind (-0.3% November and 0.4% December).