Saturday, November 27, 2010

Krause Not Surprised by the Stronger Than Expected Retail Sales Reported This Weekend

Dr. David Krause, Marquette's AIM program director has been reporting for months that the U.S. economy is stronger than most economists and politicians have been predicting. "I had been hearing for the past quarter from my contacts in manufacturing that demand for their products has been stronger than expected and now it is apparent that the U.S. consumer is getting into the act. I have been saying that the consensus estimates of economists and the dire predictions of the politicians over the past several months have been way off the mark. This weekend's retail sales help support my belief the U.S. economy is much better than expected and that 2011 is going to be a stronger than expected year -  early estimates are for a double-digit increase in holiday sales."

It was reported by Coremetrics, that the U.S online retail sector delivered double digit growth on Black Friday 2010 compared to the same period last year. The analytics-based firm reported the following year/year trends for Black Friday:
  • Consumer Spending Increases: Online sales were up a healthy 15.9 percent, with consumers pushing the average order value (AOV) up from $170.19 to $190.80 for an increase of 12.1 percent.
  • Luxury Goods Make a Comeback: Jewelry retailers reported a 17.6 percent increase in sales. These affluent shoppers appear very willing to open their wallets.
  • Surgical Shopping: Consumers know what they want and where to get it. People are viewing 18.0 percent fewer products on sites than they did last year, suggesting that they are shopping with a specific item in mind and quickly moving on.
  • Social Shopping: Consumers appear increasingly savvy about their favorite brands’ social presence, and are turning to their networks on social sites for information about deals and inventory levels. While the percentage of visitors arriving from social network sites is fairly small relative to all online visitors—nearly 1 percent—it is gaining momentum, with Facebook dominating the space.
  • Mobile Shopping: Consumers are also embracing mobile as a shopping tool. On Black Friday, 5.6 percent of people logged onto a retailer’s site using a mobile device, a jump of 26.7 percent compared to the prior Friday.
Bloomberg reported that across the U.S., stores reported heavier traffic than last year as Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, got off to its earliest start yet. Foot traffic was estimated to be the highest in five years. At Macy’s flagship store in New York’s Herald Square, many people were shopping for themselves for the first time in two years.

Dr. Krause commented, "I think that the American consumer will spend more on themselves this holiday season. People with jobs are not as worried about losing them as they were the past two years. I can see and feel the pent-up consumer demand when I'm in big box stores. We are a consumer-driven society and this is going to be a stronger holiday season than forecast."

"I also believe on-line shopping will add to the strong first weekend and Cyber Monday," Krause added. Shoppers who skipped the crowds on Black Friday gave online merchants a 16 percent spike in revenue, according to Coremetrics. The solid increase adds to a 33 percent spending increase for Thanksgiving. Shopping on cell phones remained a small piece of the pie with about 6 percent of people logged onto a retailer's website using a mobile device, but this was a 27% increase over last year. Online shopping makes up between 8 and 10 percent of holiday spending - and continues to grow.

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