Retail real estate landlords can’t be blamed if they’re pessimistic about the coming holiday season.
The king of the 20-percent-off coupon, Bed Bath & Beyond recently announced that it is closing 20 more stores than the 40 previously earmarked in April, after same-store sales dropped 6.7 percent year over year during the second quarter. Though the company still operates about 1,000 stores across its several brands, 40 of the closures will be namesake locations, which average 45,000 square feet. It’s not good news for a retailer getting hit hard by both Amazon, and mass-merchandise chains Walmart and Target.
And its troubles are only the latest during a year that has seen its major share of overall store closings.
Despite these problems, the National Retail Federation has expectations that this year’s holiday season will outpace the period at the end of 2018. The organization says that it expects sales to increase between 3.8 percent to 4.2 percent over last year, hitting somewhere between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion.
“There is significant economic unease, but current economic data and the recent momentum of the economy show that we can expect a much stronger holiday season than last year,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Job growth and higher wages mean there’s more money in families’ pockets, so we see both the willingness and ability to spend this holiday season.”
It was also pointed out that the impact of the trade war with China is still uncertain, and 79 percent of consumers surveyed by NRF said that they think prices will rise due to the tariffs.
But not everyone has confidence in the NRF figures.
Retail analyst Pam Danziger points out that last year the NRF predicted the holidays would bring a 4.3 to 4.8-percent sales increase, but it only turned out to be 2.1 percent, making it the smallest increase since 2009.
She checked in with Paul Walsh, IBM’s global director of consumer weather and climate strategy. He stressed that weather has a much bigger impact on shopping than most realize. Warm weather forecast for October and November will likely keep consumers away from stores, while a cold December should push spending, creating a “famine-feast” holiday season.
Meanwhile, a familiar retail face is coming back during the holiday season. Toys “R” Us, which went bankrupt and closed all of its store last year, is making a comeback. Shoppers at Toysrus.com will be directed to Target’s website to make purchases in an agreement between management of the two firms.
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