• Casey Reagan

Holiday 2019 - Is Retail Up or Down?

Updated: Jan 16, 2020

After seeing several stories with rapid fire interpretation of the results of the retail holiday, I decided to look a little deeper. This is my interpretation of the current results of the 2019 Holiday Shopping season.

Brick-and-mortar sales for Black Friday were up 4.2% over last year. This is based on a report from FirstData which reports data from more than 1 million brick-and-mortar merchant locations. To paraphrase Devin McGranahan, while retail is evolving, shoppers are willing to travel to find what they need. As part of this they are doing so via a blend of digital and physical via things like mobile payments.

According to Jason Fordham, CEO of Perfit, “Shoppers are no longer beholden to brands dictating what is trending or desirable. They control their own narrative, and this includes their shopping experience. Shoppers aren’t abandoning brick-and-mortar, they are leaving brands and experiences that fail to meet their expectations. Retailers who have adapted are thriving, regardless of shopping channel.”

In a specific case, a record-setting 3,000 people were lined up as the Mall of America opened its doors at 5am for Black Friday shopping. According to the Star Tribune, the mall has opened 25 new stores since last year and that its traffic reflects trends across the country. One trend that was clear from interviews is that shoppers still see going to the mall as tradition. Further, according to Jon Reily, head of global commerce strategy at Publicis Sapient, "The holidays are still a very social time," he said. "People seek out experiences, they want the winter wonderlands, and you can't get that online. That's still part of the culture, that portion of it is still healthy.”

Not only were shoppers in stores. They were ready to spend. All around spending for the holiday was up with overall revenues of approximately $70 billion. With a record breaking $20 billion of that occurring online for the weekend, the trend continues of online growth, but in-store sales still driving the bottom line.

Key takeaways are consumer confidence is high leading to a strong showing retail this holiday. This confidence also translates to shoppers being more empowered to demand an improved shopping experience and they want to play a part in driving and defining that experience. Retailers who fail to deliver on the demands of shoppers will continue to fall by the wayside. Those that are investing in their stores to provide a superior experience and to help guide the narrative before shoppers can will be the big winners.

How is the holiday going for your brand? Drop us a note and we can schedule a time to discuss your particular situation.