Ready, set, shop: Holiday sales outlook

Ready, set, shop: Holiday sales outlook

by 3q, November 3, 2014

Bain is forecasting holiday retail sales growth of 3% to 4% this year, up from 2.6% in 2013. Our forecast includes both in-store and e-commerce GAFO sales1 in November and December. Blurring channel boundaries make it increasingly challenging to attribute growth across specific channels, but we estimate in-store GAFO sales growth of 1% to 2% over last holiday season (versus 0.9% growth in 2013) and e-commerce sales growth of 15% to 16% (in line with 15.7% growth in 2013); we also expect e-commerce to account for an increased share of overall sales, from 12% to 14%. Lower unemployment, falling gas prices, higher disposable income and healthy financial markets should encourage spending growth this holiday season. However, slower sales growth to date signals consumer restraint and softens our expectations. While performance will vary widely by retailer, winners will be those offering the best of both digital and physical worlds.

Moderate growth across blurred channel boundaries

Bain expects total GAFO sales1 growth of 3% to 4% this holiday season, up from 2.6% last year (see Figure 1). We define holiday sales as sales during the months of November and December. Our forecast blends both in-store and online GAFO sales because these channels are increasingly difficult to separate. Customers follow complex pathways in their shopping journeys, moving back and forth across channels to browse, buy and pick up their purchases. This has made it increasingly difficult for retailers to distinguish the contributions of each channel, and has led many of them to report an overall sales figure that combines in-store and online sales.

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