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Retail Sales Climb; Fastest Rate in Four Months

Improvements in the U.S. economy bolstered retailers’ February sales, reflecting improved consumer sentiment as it relates to spending. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), retail industry sales (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) for February 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted from January and 4.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

“Retailers have done a commendable job keeping their inventory levels where they need to be, while still offering attractive promotions for those who are eager to spend,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “The big challenge retailers will face in the coming months, however, will be going head to head with high cotton, food, and energy prices.”

“February retail sales are in sync with evidence of the expanding economy,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “While February is typically a slow month for retailers, consumers showed their spending power, though it’s too soon to tell what type of impact the spike in gasoline prices will have on consumers this spring.”

February retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations, and restaurants) increased 1 percent seasonally adjusted over January and 9.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Solid growth in discretionary spending was seen across the board.

Report: More Shoppers, More Money Spent this Black Friday Weekend

According to a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey conducted over the weekend by BIGresearch, 212 million shoppers visited stores and websites during the Black Friday weekend, an increase from 195 million shoppers reported last year. The NRF also reports that consumers spent more during the weekend, spending an average of $365.34 per shopper, up from last year’s $343.31. Total spending for the weekend is estimated to be $45 billion.

More Black Friday shoppers hit stores in the early hours of the morning; nearly one-fourth of the day’s shoppers (24 percent) were in stores by 4 a.m. and 9.5 percent of Black Friday shoppers began their shopping at midnight, triple the number in 2009 (3.3 percent). Additionally, the number of Thanksgiving Day shoppers has doubled over the past five years, from 10.3 million in 2005 to 22.3 million in 2010. Online shopping jumped from 28.4 percent last year to 33.6 percent this year.

Among the top type of stores were department stores (52 percent of the weekend’s shoppers this year vs. 49.4 percent last year) and clothing stores  (24.4 percent vs. 22.9 percent). The percentage of people who shopped at discounters declined to 40.3 percent from 43.2 percent last year.

Holiday Spending Expected to Rise Slightly This Year

According to another NRF survey, 2010 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions, U.S. consumers plan to spend an average of $688.87 on holiday-related shopping, a slight rise from last year’s $681.83. More than 60 percent of shoppers said the economy would impact their spending, down from last year’s 65.3 percent, but shoppers plan to compensate by spending less (81.5 percent), comparison shopping online (30.9 percent), shopping for sales (54.1 percent), and using more coupons (40.6 percent). The most important factors when shopping this holiday season, said survey respondents, were sales and discounts (41.8 percent).

As in years past, most holiday gift-givers will spend most of their budget on gifts for family ($393.55), followed by friends ($71.45), and co-workers ($18.26). Total spending on gifts ($518.08) is expected to increase 2.1 percent from last year. Other holiday purchases will include decorations ($41.51), greeting cards and postage ($26.10), candy and food ($86.32), and flowers ($16.86).

For more results, click here. This survey was conducted by BIGresearch.

NRF Forecasts Increase in Holiday Retail Sales

According to a new report by the National Retail Federation (NRF), holiday retail sales are expected to increase 2.3 percent this year to $447.1 billion. Last year holiday sales increased 0.4 percent compared to 2008. In 2008, holiday sales declined 3.9 percent compared to 2007. The NRF reports that retailers are expected to focus on inventory control to limit unplanned markdowns. The NRF also expects new channels, such as mobile, to drive sales and provide added service.

NRF Releases Expected Top Costumes List for Halloween

Fairy Tale Princess costume by Rubie’s Costume Co., Inc.

For the sixth consecutive year, princess costumes will be the No. 1 costume for children this Halloween, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. The NRF’s 2010 Top Costumes survey, conducted by BIGresearch, reports that 4.3 million children will celebrate Halloween dressed as a princess. According to the survey, witches are the preferred adult costume for this year (11.4 percent) and the No. 1 costume for pets is expected to be pumpkins (10.3 percent).

New to the Top Costumes for Children list is Buzz Lightyear (648,000) and Harry Potter characters (459,000). Nearly 1.8 million children will dress as Spider-Man (No. 2), and 1.7 million children will dress as a witch (No. 3).

For adults, vampires will take the No. 2 spot with 2.6 million adults dressing as the characters. Pirates are next on the list at No. 3 with 1.9 million adults. Nurse costumes returned this year at No. 4.

For pets, traditional costumes will reign such as a devil (9.7 percent), a witch (5.1 percent), a hot dog (3.9 percent), and a bee (3.6 percent).

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July Retail Sales Increase Year-Over-Year for Back-to-School Season

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), as back-to-school sales start, retail industry sales for July (excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 3.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Retail industry sales also declined 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month.

July retail sales released by the U.S. Commerce Department show that total retail sales (including non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted from June and increased 5.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

Back-to-school related categories also saw year-over-year gains, according to the NRF. Clothing and accessories stores were up 4.7 percent over last July, but declined 0.7 percent from June. Electronics and appliance stores increased 8.1 percent year-over-year and declined 0.1 percent from last month. Furniture and home furnishing stores increased 0.4 percent from the same period a year ago and declined 0.3 percent from June.

A survey conducted by NRF, released in July, found that the average family of students in grades K-12 would spend $594.24 on back-to-school this year, an increase of 8.3 percent compared to $548.72 last year.

Report: Back to School Sales to Increase

According to 2010 sales forecasts, retailers should expect an increase in back-to-school season sales. The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) has predicted a sales increase of 5.4 percent for mid-July through mid-September, as opposed to the decline by .4 percent and 2.8 percent in 2008 and 2009, respectively. ICSC predicts that family clothing will have the strongest increase, at 6.5 percent, followed by electronics at 5 percent.

Additionally, the National Retail Federation’s 2010 Consumer Intentions and Actions Back to School survey, conducted by BIGresearch, found that the average American family will spend $606.40 on clothes, shoes, supplies, and electronics, compared to $548.72 last year and $594.24 in 2008. Total spending on school-aged children is expected to reach $21.35 billion.

The survey also found that spending on clothing, shoes, and electronics will take up the majority of consumer’s budgets, with 44.3 percent of consumers planning to spend more on store or generic brands. Additionally, the survey reported that teenagers are expected to spend slightly more of their own money on back to school items, $31.74 this year compared to $30.88 last year.

Report: April Retail Sales Increase 4.6 Percent in 2010

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), April retail industry sales (excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted over March and 4.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Sales for March and April, the typical months for Easter purchases, increased 5.6 percent unadjusted over last year.

April statistics released by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (including non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations, and restaurants) increased 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted over March and 9.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

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The Toy Book’s Toy Report 12/01/09

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Catch up on last week’s news! Read The Toy Book Toy Report for 12/01/09.

To view click here.

More Cyber Monday Shoppers Purchased from Home

According to the National Retail Federation, this year’s Cyber Monday traffic shifted from mid-day hours to early morning and evening hours. The NRF reports that CyberMonday.com, a website by Shop.org that features holiday promotions and sales, had 15.8 million visits on Monday, increasing 8 percent from Cyber Monday 2008.

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