Mobile Payments Shoppers Get Ready: An Early Look at Holiday Shopping Season 2018

October 8, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

I know, I know; most of you are thinking that it’s way too early to start talking about holiday shopping season 2018, especially when you look at the calendar and realize that it’s only…October? Maybe it’s not that early after all, and the National Retail Federation (NRF) has already released early projections about the upcoming season. The news, meanwhile, is surprisingly good.

The NRF’s figures project that holiday sales will increase 4.8 percent this year over last year’s figures. That’s actually a better expansion than most—the average increase is just 3.9 percent—but it’s not as good as previous expansions. Last year, for example, was up 5.3 percent over the previous year. So there’s an expansion, and a better one than average, but not the best we’ve seen.

By way of explanation, NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz noted that improved wages and employment pictures bolstered confidence, which in turn led to stronger sales. Plus, there was the anticipation of tax cut measures to put more cash into customers’ pockets and make them more willing to spend. There’s no slated tax cut this year, but confidence still seems high.

What’s more, seasonal hiring is poised to reflect this fact, as the NRF is projecting seasonal hires of anywhere between 585,000 and 650,000 additional jobs. Target alone, reports note, is gearing up for 120,000 temporary hires nationwide, while even beleaguered Macy’s is eyeing an extra 80,000 folks.

Best of all, the NRF’s projections have some support. AlixPartners released projections calling for an increase between 3.1 and 4.1 percent over last year, and even Deloitte and PriceWaterhouseCoopers are calling for around five percent.

So basically, it’s looking like a green Christmas for retailers, and the retail sector could certainly use the help. With all the reports of bankruptcies and store closures, seeing word like this is unexpected and almost impossible. Where will they do all this shopping, anyway, especially with Toys ‘R’ Us out of the picture and a host of other store closures either in progress or expected to arrive? There are still several options, of course, and we may see an uptick in local retail or Amazon.

Still, the Christmas news looks good, and hopefully, we’ll see this optimistic projection turn into a welcome reality for the economy at large.