More than half of businesses surveyed are optimistic about holiday spending, but split over the impact that the U.S. presidential election will have.
Fung Global Retail & Technology and First Insight conducted the survey during the first week of August to gauge sentiment regarding consumers’ holiday spending this year. They asked 102 retail industry leaders – 81 retailers, 13 wholesalers and eight other retail industry experts – 12 questions to assess their holiday business outlook. Of the executives polled, 48 percent support buying and merchandising decisions, 28 percent support planning and 24 percent work in other areas, such as operations, accounting and sales. Of the companies they represent, 58.8 percent work for firms that have annual revenues under $50 million, 26 percent work for firms with revenues between $50 million and $1 billion and almost 15 percent work for firms with annual revenues of more than $1 billion.
The survey found 33 percent very optimistic about holiday, 40 percent optimistic, 22 percent neutral and 5 percent pessimistic. Those who said they are optimistic cited reasons such as “economy on the rise,” “pricing has been adjusted to be more competitive,” “promotion” and “expanded product lines.” Those who were pessimistic cited “lighter store traffic” and “the economy” as the reasons for their pessimism.
The majority of respondents expect business to rise this year, with 52 percent predicting business will be up 5 percent or more this holiday season when compared with 2015. Within the 52 percent who were polled, 27 percent said business will be up between 5 and 10 percent, while 16 percent said it will be up 10 percent to 20 percent and 9 percent believe business will be up more than 20 percent. In the balance of those surveyed, 18 percent said they expect business to rise between 0 and 5 percent, while 14 percent said business will be flat compared with holiday 2015. There were 16 percent who said business will be down. Of that 16 percent, 8 percent said business will be down between 5 and 10 percent; 4 percent said it will be down 10 to 20 percent, and 2 percent predicted business will decline more than 20 percent.
As for the upcoming U.S presidential election, the survey respondents were split on what its impact will have on holiday spending. Of the forecast, 35 percent believed the election will have a neutral impact, with 34 percent believing the impact will be positive and 31 percent believing the impact will be negative.
The survey also found that 36 percent of the respondents believe gas prices will positively impact holiday sales, while 43 percent said the impact will be neutral on holiday spending, and 21 percent predicted it will have a negative impact.
Further, 68 percent said the Brexit vote in the U.K. will have no impact on holiday business in the U.S., and 32 percent said that changes in the global economy will positively influence holiday 2016 business.