Retailer’s Christmas Performance Post-Recession

Retailer’s Christmas Performance Post-Recession

Photo from Picasa

Photo from Picasa

Retailers post-recession

Things are looking good for retailers. With the Christmas season just ending, many retailers were worried that they would have much more depressed sales numbers than ever. The recession was weighing heavily on everyone’s mind and stores were bracing for a lagging season. A Christmas miracle happened for them though – shoppers appear to have used last-minute shopping techniques. These last-minute sales caused retailers’ numbers to reach higher than predicted.

Namely there were two things that caused the last minute rush: 1) Shoppers procrastinating and waiting for last-minute super-specials; 2) the East Coast’s snowstorm that hampered some shoppers plans forcing them to shop in a hurry. Although things are looking up, true numbers won’t be available until the week after Christmas. That’s when experts officially close the books on the holiday season and assess performance.

The procrastinators weigh in

David Bassuk, managing director of AlixPartners, said, “The procrastinators were really out in force. But I think retailers needed to be more aggressive to fight for those sales. A lot of people are still willing to hold out until after Christmas because the deals weren’t as good.” For example, Joe Roberts of Madison, Wisconsin, purchased a PlayStation 3 for his son. He waited to shell out the $300 cost due to the recession. Roberts is self-employed as a designer of manufacturing equipment whose wife most likely will lose her job soon. He said, “I don’t feel good about our outlook.” There were millions of procrastinators shopping this season and they brought the last minute surge retailers were looking for.

The weather can contribute

The weather definitely can contribute to sales. When consumers don’t feel safe driving, or can’t drive due to weather, they put off shopping altogether. The East Coast’s snowstorm just prior to Christmas made retailers worried. Wally Brewster, spokesman for General Growth Properties, said that merchants had to make up for lost sales after the roads were cleared. The peak in customers was a welcomed surprise, but most likely numbers will still be about the same as they were last year for the retail mall.

A full assessment

It won’t be until January 7th that retailers release their official numbers for the 2009 season. It will be interesting to see how well they really did post-recession. Most analysts expect that retailers’ fourth-quarter profits should be healthy due to them not having to slash prices more than anticipated. Plus, their numbers were also cushioned by lean inventories so there was not a lot of unsold merchandise left to eat up profits. Once the economy does weigh in on the numbers, analysts are expected to release their official assessment for the2009 year of shopping.

Change is about to come

Most experts believe that the recession is officially over and now it will take time for things to stabilize. One of the biggest contributors to retailer’s lagging sales is the unemployment rate. With many companies set to begin hiring full-time employees at the beginning of 2010, analysts are encouraged. They believe that the economy will start turning around as soon as jobs are again available to consumers.

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