Originally published by Directory of Major Malls Shoppingcenters.com
By John Dee, President, Placewise Americas
This holiday season, shoppers have replaced concerns about Covid with concerns about inflation and inventory. And in spite of this, most analysts are predicting a modest increase over 2021 holiday sales – a year that saw a nearly 15% increase in retail sales over the 2020 pandemic holiday season.
Deloitte’s annual holiday survey is forecasting a 4-6% increase for holiday 2022.
Mastercard is predicting a 7.1% 2022 increase over holiday 2021.
And NRF is forecasting an annual 6-8% increase in retail sales for all of 2022. (NRF holiday retail forecast set for November 3)
Regardless of exactly where the numbers come in, they are reflective of continued consumer demand and only partly a result of inflation. Most growth in the first half of 2022 has been attributed to the volume of sales by lead analysts at Forrester. The double digit retail growth of 2021 may have cooled, but we are still seeing growth and that bodes well for retailers and landlords.
Supply chain and inventory concerns are also present in the consumer mind, with nearly two out of three consumers believing that supply chain issues are part of the new normal going forward. This has contributed to an earlier start to the holiday shopping season in the recent past, but has been a trend for a number of years as Black Friday has evolved into more of a season than a one day stampede. And this year it has already started.
Savvy retailers are balancing these consumer concerns to maximize their returns and discounts are part of the strategy for many retailers in 2022. With inflation and the overall economy lurking in the mind of this year’s holiday shopper, so is the thirst for discounts and promotions. Shoppers are looking for deals – early and late in the holiday season and retailers are providing them.
If consumers are comparison shopping, which they are, they’ll be using online shopping sites and services to find the best prices and availability. For shopping centers, making your retailer offers and events available through your digital touchpoints is paramount. In holiday 2021, 54% of shoppers used at least five or more channels – like web, video or social media to research purchases before buying. This will only increase in 2022.
For October to continue as a legitimate holiday season, supply chain issues would have to become more permanent. In 2020-21 it was a serious issue and for those retailers who bought too much inventory in a single category like athleisure, they are now discounting to get it off the rack as consumer demands have shifted quickly to more upscale dress. This was a problem created by the pandemic.
And while this early start is a reflection of the ongoing post pandemic malaise we are still suffering, it will not last forever. The market will correct the supply chain problem with either more supply or higher prices. Either way the October launch is likely to shift back into November.
For November, we will continue to see holidays dominate most of the month. With doorbuster mob scenes more than likely a thing of the past, the season will start shortly after Halloween and continue right up through Super Saturday. As fun as they may have been for some, the Black Friday rush was simply not a good way to run a store.
Comparison shoppers are looking for deals and promotions – so get as much as you can from your retailers and get it in the hands of your shoppers across all of your digital channels – website, email clubs, social media, advertising, loyalty programs and however else your shoppers connect with you, including your holiday events.
There is no other time of the year that consumers are more open to your message. Now is the time to grow your email, mobile and social media followers. Take advantage of this time and expand your reach.
It’s that time of year and it’s okay to increase the amount of communication to your shoppers. That can mean more frequency and more content. For most retailers and shopping centers it means both. When in doubt, send it out!
For shopping centers looking to support their retail tenants, it’s not too late to lend a hand to help capture the early traffic and set yourself up for success with last minute shoppers as well.