Baby bouncers rank 10th among popular holiday gift items this year, according to Loop Commerce.

This holiday shopping season is poised to be solid, according to several separate reports that take a bullish view on consumer spending. The data points to a resurgence in physical stores as a destination (which echoes prior reports) as well as planned gifting on items such as apparel (men’s and women’s), electronics and toys.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, IBM crunched the numbers with the help of artificial intelligence and came up with a forecast that showed holiday sales increasing about 5 percent over last year. The estimate is in line with previously published estimates.

IBM’s retail report noted that companies apt to “blend online with store experiences” while bringing “new innovation to their stores” will win this year. IBM cited retail monikers such as Walmart, Kroger, Ahold, Nordstrom and Nike as examples. Researchers at the company said in their report that “non-seasonal sales will trend strongest during Black Friday-Super Saturday, with other segments gaining traction in December.”

By category, IBM is expecting “consumer appliances” to be popular. And it “predicts fashion, particularly men’s, consumer electronics and fine jewelry will be strong categories this season. Other [fourth quarter] successes will be jewelry and apparel. We are also watching toys and health and beauty categories carefully, particularly with the change in the retailer landscape.”

The one variable that could change everything, though, is the weather, IBM noted.

Regarding consumer sentiment toward gifting, Loop Commerce offered a list of the top gift items this year. Women’s handbags took the number-one spot followed by women’s wallets, wristwatches and women’s athletic apparel. In fifth place was men’s T-shirts, which was followed by women’s dresses, men’s sweats and hoodies, women’s fragrances and women’s coats and jackets. Coming in 10th was baby bouncers.

Loop Commerce noted that women tend to buy twice as many gifts as men. But guys spend about 35 percent more on gifts than women.

In a separate report from JLL, the real estate firm also sees 5 percent growth in holiday spending. In its survey of consumers, JLL said “nearly 34.4 percent of shoppers will start shopping prior to Thanksgiving, while just 28.6 percent of shoppers will wait to start stocking up over the five-day period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday.”

Researchers at the company said their survey showed that 44.4 percent of respondents expect to dole out more than $500 in gifts. And similar to Loop, JLL said men will “also spend comparatively more this holiday than women, 30.6 percent of men indicated they would spend over $750 on gifts, while only 26 percent of women said they will do the same.”

Mobile and smartphones will play “a major role in consumer purchasing,” JLL stated, adding that 50.3 percent of consumers said “they would use their phone for online ordering, up from just 22.2 percent the year prior.” Regarding destinations, less than half of respondents planned on shopping online while physical stores — especially discount and department stores — were cited at top spots to shop.

In A.T. Kearney’s Holiday 2018 survey, top categories this year include apparel and footwear as well as toys and electronics. “Nearly three-quarters of holiday shoppers plan to purchase apparel and footwear (73 percent),” authors of the report said, adding that more than half of those polled “plan to purchase toys and/or electronics (57 percent and 55 percent, respectively).


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