AccuWeather estimates that U.S. shoppers in stores and online will spend about $727.9 billion during the 2019 holiday shopping season, a boost over 2018 holiday retail spending of $701.2 billion. AccuWeather’s prediction—which factors in weather—represents a 3.8% (or $26.6 billion) increase from 2018. This is on the low end of the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) projection of a 3.8 to 4.2% increase, or $727.9 billion to $730.7 billion.
The AccuWeather model incorporates AccuWeather forecasts, as well as economic indicators and historical shopping trend data, and has proved to be more accurate in its 2017 and 2018 holiday forecast predictions than other sources. Last year, AccuWeather estimated a 4.1% increase, which proved more on target than the NRF prediction of 4.3 to 4.8% increase. And two years ago, AccuWeather was also more accurate when it projected a 4.2% increase in 2017 holiday retail sales over 2016 holiday spending, compared to the NRF prediction of 3.6 to 4%.
The average annual growth in holiday retail sales over the past four years is 3.4%.
“For the upcoming holiday shopping season, we don’t see any major deviations from normal temperatures either above or below normal compared to last year. In fact, it will be more normal this season, nor a massive change from last year,” says AccuWeather Founder and CEO Dr. Joel N. Myers. “This year, the weather will be less of a factor.”
AccuWeather meteorologists are forecasting no major snowstorms for major cities in the Northeast corridor and for temperatures to be higher than last year from Thanksgiving to Christmas in eastern cities, such as New York and Philadelphia, and southeastern cities like Atlanta and Miami.
“Since we don’t expect any major snowstorms in major populated areas during the holiday season, the impact of weather on retail sales this year will be less than is often the case,” Myers says. “It will hurt sales of coats and winter apparel, but in general it will bring out more people to shop in the stores, so the net effect will be better sales.
“In the West, it will be cooler than normal in places such as Los Angeles and Phoenix but not enough to really impact sales. The fire season, while bad, is not as bad as last year, so that’s less of a negative effect on sales. And overall, the economy is doing pretty well, which should support an overall increase in retail sales.”
Many businesses in the retail sector and other industries rely on AccuWeather’s predictive analytics that enable businesses to proactively benefit from upcoming changes in the weather, to more effectively plan, and to eliminate interruptions and losses. The service translates historical weather data and complex data models into customized, actionable insights that help people make the best decisions, all the way down to the level of individual stores.
AccuWeather’s holiday sales forecast considers the additional impact of weather conditions and the AccuWeather forecasts on holiday shopping. Most holiday sales estimates look solely at economic trends without any consideration of weather forecasts, a variable which drives decision-making and planning for virtually every activity. AccuWeather has found that approximately up to 30 percent of the variability in national holiday sales each year can be explained by weather.