Wilkes professor releases holiday retail sales forecast

Short shopping season, decreasing consumer confidence impact sales
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A short holiday shopping season and decreasing consumer confidence are among the factors cited by a Wilkes University professor as influencing holiday retail sales in 2013.
Anthony L. Liuzzo, business and economics professor and director of Arizona business programs at Wilkes University, is predicting an increase of 3.2 percent in holiday retail spending for the current year. Liuzzo, who has been producing his holiday retail sales forecast for more than 20 years, tracks shopping trends and buyer behavior in making his annual analysis.
Liuzzo has predicted a 3.2 percent increase in holiday retail spending — slightly higher than last season’s actual 3 percent — because many economic uncertainties still remain. “Despite the fact that consumers indeed desire to spend much more this year than they did last year, they might be unable to do so, due to the continued high rate of unemployment, fears of job losses, extremely modest wage increases, the depressed housing market, and uncertainty in stock prices,” Liuzzo says.
In making his 2013 prediction, Liuzzo notes that while the savings rate of consumers exploded to more than 8 percent immediately after the onset of the recent recession, it has now decreased to about 5 percent. “Consumer confidence has recently begun to fall,” Liuzzo says. “This holiday season will be characterized by a cautious consumer.”
Thanksgiving falls late on Nov. 28, making the shopping season only 26 days long — eight days shorter than last year and with only four weekends of shopping in 2013. Christmas falling on a Wednesday in 2013 is another factor.
“Retailers prefer that Christmas falls on Sunday or Monday, allowing for weekend shopping immediately prior to the holiday,” says Liuzzo.
Some other factors temper in Liuzzo’s forecast. Consumer confidence remains low, for example, with unemployment hovering close to 8 percent. Stock market performance, while improving, continues to be a bit uncertain, Liuzzo explains, as do other economic indicators such as the continued stagnant housing market. Consumer debt also continues to be a negative influence, with high credit card debt and bankruptcies still being problematic. A copy of the full 2013 holiday retail sales forecast can be accessed at www.wilkes.edu/holidayforecast.
In 2013, high-tech products will continue to be vigorous. Liuzzo predicts major sellers could be computer tablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy and the Apple iPad, smartphones, PlayStation and Xbox One game consoles, big-screen smart TVs, toys such as the Barbie Dream House and the Furby boom, and children’s learning toys.
Liuzzo’s annual predictions of holiday retail sales have been published in hundreds of newspapers and magazines throughout the United States.

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