Let the Holiday Sales Speculation Begin! (Wednesday's News & Notes)

With ICSC and the NRF each providing their holiday sales forecasts, the real fun now begins as people search for clues as to how the season will truly play out.

For what it's worth, ICSC is projecting same-store sales to rise between 3 percent and 3.5 percent over the November/December period while the NRF thinks total sales will rise 2.3 percent to $447.1 billion. In addition, Retail Forward has projected a same-store sales increase of 2.5 percent and Deloitte has projected total sales to rise 2.0 percent. (ShopperTrak and NPD Group will release their projections within the next couple of weeks as well.)

Reuters chose to focus on the positive and highlighted the fact that if these projections come to fruition it would mark the strongest holiday sales season since at least 2006.

The New York Times opted for a different tactic and looked at the seasonal hiring patterns. It appears retailers will not take on a ton of temporary workers for the holidays. (As a side note, while Reuters explicitly called the back-to-school sales "better than expected", the Times described them as "disappointing." For the record, the consensus was that August sales were stronger than expected and we don't get the final September numbers until tomorrow.)

Lastly, the Wall Street Journal is saying that the success of the holiday shopping season for many retailers will hinge on discounting.

The shift back into discounting mode is an about-face from the previous holiday season and earlier this year, when lean inventories allowed retailers to hold the line on prices. But retailers were forced to roll out promotions to bring customers into their stores when shopping sputtered out in late spring and summer.


The September price wars were particularly evident in the teen sector. AĆ©ropostale Inc., a heavily promotional retailer, saw more competition this season as its higher-priced peers took deep discounts. It responded with select hoodies on sale for $14.99, the same low level it offered on Black Friday last year, says John Morris, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets.

"There's no doubt that the current climate is more promotional," said AĆ©ropostale Co-CEO Mindy Meads at a conference last month. "In select categories, (our competitors are) hitting a little harder, which is causing us to promote harder."

Here are some other highlights from around the retail real estate world.

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