Retailers Re-Focus Shipping Calendar in Preparation for Surge in Online Shopping, Reports NRF

nrfExpectations are high for a strong omnichannel holiday season, so retailers are preparing their shipping operations to avoid delivery and service hiccups, according to Shop.org, a division of the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Shop.org’s eHoliday survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, indicates that nearly eight in 10 retailers surveyed, or roughly 78.8 percent, will set their standard shipping deadlines for guaranteed Christmas delivery to expire at least a week before the big day. This compares to 73.7 percent last holiday season. In addition, approximately 21.2 percent will set their standard shipping deadlines to expire on December 19 or later, compared to 26.3 percent last year.

Of the 92.3 percent of retailers polled that plan to offer free standard shipping of some sort this holiday season, 69.1 percent said their guarantee for Christmas delivery will expire on or before December 19. Nearly three quarters of retailers polled last year, or 74.2 percent, had a deadline on the equivalent day; in this case, December 20. [Read more...]

NRF Offers Optimistic Forecast for Holiday Sales and Hires

The National Retail Federation (NRF) expects sales (excluding auto, gas, and restaurant sales) to increase 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion in November and December, higher than 2013’s 3.1 percent increase during that same time frame. This would mark the first time since 2011 that holiday sales would increase more than 4 percent.

Holiday sales on average have grown 2.9 percent over the past 10 years, including 2014’s estimates, and are expected to represent approximately 19.2 percent of the retail industry’s annual sales of $3.2 trillion.

NRF’s holiday sales forecast is based on an economic model using several indicators including consumer credit, disposable personal income, and previous monthly retail sales releases. It now includes direct-to-consumer, kiosk, and online sales.

Additionally, NRF expects between 725,000 and 800,000 new seasonal employers for the holiday shopping season, potentially more than retailers hired in 2013.

NRF’s shop.org division expects online sales to grow 8 to 11 percent more than last holiday season.

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NRF Says Record Number of Americans to Buy Halloween Costumes This Year

nrfAccording to data from the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Halloween Consumer Spending Survey, more than two-thirds—or 67.4 percent—of celebrants will buy Halloween costumes for the holiday, which is the most in the survey’s 11-year history.

An estimated 2.6 million children plan to dress up as one of Disney’s Frozen characters, while about 1.8 million children will dress as one of the re-imagined classic characters from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Princess (3.4 million), animal (3 million), and Spider-Man (2.6 million) will also be popular choices for children.

The NRF survey also found that 75 million adults will dress in costume, with most sticking to traditional options, including a witch (4.8 million), an animal (2.6 million), a Batman character (2 million), and a pirate (1.8 million).

A total of $2.8 billion will be spent on costumes overall, with celebrants shelling out $1.1 billion on children’s costumes, $1.4 billion on adult costumes, and $350 million on costumes for pets. Findings revealed that among the 14.3 percent of celebrants planning to outfit their pets, 10.8 percent will dress them as a pumpkin, the top costume choice again this year.

Slightly more than 34 percent of Americans will look for costume inspiration online, while 33 percent will seek it at a retail store or costume shop. The survey found 11.4 percent of Americans will turn to Pinterest for costume ideas, up from 9.3 percent last year, with young adults driving the most Pinterest traffic: 21.2 percent and 21 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds and 25-to-34-year-olds, respectively.

Above-Average Retail Imports as Longshoremen’s Negotiations Continue

The import of retail merchandise remains above average as negotiations continue between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association.

In a report released September 9 by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates, 1.47 million containers are expected to pass through U.S. ports covered by the Global Port Tracker report this month. September has averaged 1.42 million containers for the past five years.

Concerns grew among retailers as the West Coast longshoremen’s contract remained unsettled after its expiration on July 1, which prompted an early import of back-to-school and holiday goods in preparation for a potential disruption on the docks. August saw an all-time monthly record of 1.53 million containers because of these precautions. [Read more...]

NRF Reports Back-to-School Shoppers Still Wrapping Up Shopping Lists, Leaning More on Coupons

nrfAccording to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) latest Back-to-School/College Surveys, the average family with children in grades K to 12 completed 49.9 percent of its shopping by mid-August, down slightly from last year’s 52.1 percent.

As of August 12, fewer families had stepped out to take advantage of retailers’ special school savings opportunities; specifically, 23.6 percent had not started shopping yet, up from 20.9 percent last year. However, some were eager to get started: 15.7 percent said they have completed their lists, which is roughly the same as last year.

Meanwhile, college families got a jump on retailers’ sales and promotions this summer, with 23.4 percent stating that they completely finished with their lists, up from 20 percent last year. Slightly fewer families this year say they haven’t started shopping, at 26.2 percent versus 28.8 percent last year. [Read more...]

Record Imports Expected as West Coast Port Talks Continue

nrfImport volume at major U.S. container ports is expected to hit an all-time record in August as retailers concerned about the lack of a West Coast longshoremen’s contract rush to bring holiday season merchandise into the country, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

Import volume at U.S. ports covered by the Global Port Tracker report is expected to total 1.54 million containers this month, which is the highest monthly volume since NRF began tracking import volume in 2000. It tops a previous record of 1.53 million set in July, as well as unusually high numbers seen this spring as retailers began importing merchandise early in anticipation of this summer’s contract talks.

The contract between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union expired on July 1. Dockworkers remain on the job as both sides continue to negotiate a new agreement.

NRF Finds Back to School Spending Is Up, Driven by Demand for Electronics and Supplies

According to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2014 Back-to-School Survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, the average family with children in grades K-12 will spend $669.28 on apparel, shoes, supplies, and electronics. This is up 5 percent from a total spend of $634.78 last year, driven by increased demand for electronic items, as well as parents’ need to restock their children’s school supplies.

NRF broke down spending by grade, and according to the survey, the average family shopping for high school students will spend $682.99, while spending on middle school/junior high comes in a close second at $682.13. Parents with elementary school-age children will spend an average of $580.94. [Read more...]

NRF Revises Annual Economic Forecast to Expect Stronger Second Half of Year

The National Retail Federation has lowered its retail sales forecast for the rest of the year. Originally, slow growth was recorded during the first half of the year, but growth is expected to be significantly faster over the next five months. NRF forecasted in January that retail sales would grow 4.1 percent this year over 2013, but has since revised that number to 3.6 percent.

NRF calculated that sales grew 2.9 percent during the first half of the year and are expected to grow at least 3.9 percent during the second half. The numbers include general retail sales and non-store sales, and exclude automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants. This winter’s severe weather contributed to the slow growth during the first quarter, but a second look at the forecast is positive, expecting growth to increase, manufacturing to expand, and the employment rate to remain its strongest since 2005.

West Coast Ports Negotiations Resume as Cargo Shifts East

The shipping news journal Lloyd’s List reports that the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) have resumed contract negotiations following a three-day hiatus last week. In the meantime, retailers are bringing holiday merchandise into the country at record levels to protect against potential supply chain disruptions, according to the Global Port Tracker report from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.

Import volume at major U.S. container ports is expected to total 1.5 million containers this month, the highest monthly volume in at least five years. This follows a trend of unusually high import levels that began this spring as retailers worked to import merchandise ahead of potential problems.

The contract between the PMA and the ILWU expired on July 1. Dockworkers remain on the job as both sides continue to negotiate a new agreement. [Read more...]

Thanksgiving Weekend Spending According to the NRF

logoAccording to the National Retail Federation (NRF), American shoppers took advantage of tons of Thanksgiving weekend deals. More than 141 million unique shoppers have shopped through the end of Thanksgiving weekend, up from 139 million over the same time frame last year.

Between all of the low prices and aggressive discounts, holiday shoppers have started earlier than ever this year, spending $407.02 on average, from Thursday through Sunday. More than 75 percent of shoppers tended to be young people between the ages of 18 and 34.

Although a lot of shopping was done in store, 40 percent of people indicated that they shopped online over the weekend (approximately 59 million shoppers). Online shopping is becoming increasingly popular as retailers tout special holiday savings through their mobile apps and web sites. Clothes, electronics, and books, DVDs, and video games were among popular items purchased over the weekend.