American retailers can expect moderate gains in the 2013 holiday season as the US economy improves gradually, said consulting company Deloitte.
Deloitte's Retail & Distribution practice anticipates holiday sales to climb between $963 and $967 billion, a 4-4.5 percent rise in the November-January holiday sales period (excluding motor vehicles and gasoline) over last year. Such a growth rate is on par with last year's 4.5 percent gain.
"Rising home prices with steady job creation may buoy consumers' confidence in the economy and create a wealth effect," said Daniel Bachman, Deloitte's senior U.S. economist.
"The debt ceiling and budget debate will resume this fall alongside uncertainty about the implementation of health care reform, which may cause some concern among consumers, but at a macro level, these factors are unlikely to have a significant effect on the economy and retail sales."
Deloitte also sees a 12.5 to 13 percent increase in non-store sales. Almost three-quarters of non-store sales result from the online channel with additional sales coming from catalogs and interactive TV.
"We anticipate non-store sales growth will continue to surpass overall retail sales growth," said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and Retail & Distribution sector leader. "Additionally, shoppers researching their purchases electronically – via their PC, tablet or mobile phone – are increasingly influencing in-store sales, particularly as we see greater integration across retailers' store, online and mobile channels. More retailers are offering services such as 'buy online and pick up in store,' as well as inventory from other locations and price matching on the spot. The store is still a core element of holiday shopping, and retailers leading the way this season will be those that effectively bring together their pricing, promotions, merchandise and inventory management across both their physical and digital storefronts."
Deloitte also forecasts that mobile-influenced retail store sales will account for 8 percent, or $66 billion, in retail store sales this holiday season, driven by consumers' store-related smartphone activity such as product research, price comparison or mobile application use.
"Retailers now realize how to engage shoppers through their mobile devices both inside and outside the store, which is having a profound impact on customer interaction, store traffic and conversion rates," continued Paul. "Consumers using their smartphones are more likely to make a purchase compared with other shoppers in the store, indicating that these activities are contributing to sales and keeping a shopper from turning to a competitor, contrary to the concern that 'showrooming' and price checking could negatively affect sales."