The calendar, a source of comfort and joy for retailers during the holiday season of 2012, might generate more anxiety than confidence this year.
In its preliminary forecast for the season, Chicago-based retail traffic counter ShopperTrak projected that sales during November and December would increase 2.4 percent over 2012 levels, lower than the 3 percent increase registered during holiday 2012.
Apparel and accessories sales are expected to come in slightly stronger for the season, rising 2.8 percent.
However, shoppers, armed with a growing arsenal of tablets and smartphones and more apps for them, are expected to be more focused in their hunt for gifts and less apt to engage in leisurely browsing of malls and stores. ShopperTrak expects traffic to dip 1.4 percent from 2012 levels, which rose 2.5 percent from the prior year. For apparel and accessories, the traffic decrease is expected to come in at 1 percent.
Much of the pressure on retailers will come from an unforgiving calendar. Last year, the window between Black Friday and Christmas Day was a full 32 days, the maximum possible, and this year will swing in the opposite direction, shrinking to 25. The seven-day difference will also mean one less weekend during that stretch.
The Jewish calendar complicates matters further. Hanukkah this year begins on Nov. 28, the day of Thanksgiving, and just one day before Black Friday. That’s the earliest Hanukkah has started since 1994, when it also fell on Nov. 28, and the last time it will commence at such an early date until 2032, when the menorah will again first be lit on Nov. 28, truncating the market for Jewish holiday gifts as well.
ShopperTrak expects holiday promotions — even the preplanned kind — to start as early as the day after Halloween, which this year falls on a Thursday.
“Nobody can afford to procrastinate,” said Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak. “Retailers must have their holiday marketing and operations ready to go when November begins, as consumers will be ready to take advantage of those deals.”
Martin continues to see signs of thrift among U.S. shoppers, with retailers equipped for the selling opportunities in stores and through traditional and Web-based media best positioned for success.
“Although the economy continues to recover slowly, consumers remain cautious about spending and are not ready to splurge,” Martin noted. “Even though online buying increases each year, brick-and-mortar sales remain retail’s largest profit opportunity. Retailers who deliver a seamless experience both in-store and at every customer touch point have the chance to capitalize and grab their share of wallet when shoppers visit the stores.”
ShopperTrak’s projections and results refer to GAFO sales, meaning those related to general merchandise, apparel, furniture and related classifications.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast