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Deloitte: Holiday sales to increase 3.6% to 4%; smaller niche players increasing share


NEW YORK — Retailers should see a modest uptick in holiday sales this year. But the news isn’t all positive for big chains or even major online retailers. 


Total holiday sales will exceed $1 trillion this holiday (November through January), representing a 3.6% to 4% over last year, according to Deloitte’s annual retail holiday sales forecast. E-commerce sales are forecast to increase 17% to 19%, reaching $96 billion to $98 billion during the 2016 holiday season. But big retailers — both physical and online — are likely to face increased competition for a share of those sales as smaller- to mid-sized niche companies continue to take market share. 


“We anticipate that marketplace fragmentation – more than e-commerce – will be the major disruptor this holiday season,” said Ron Sides, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and U.S. retail and distribution sector leader. “Retail competition will not only come from the big box down the street or major e-commerce players. It is also likely to come from the small- and mid-sized retailers that focus on niche products and experiences. This group has been collectively taking share from large, traditional retailers to the tune of $200 billion in annual sales over the last five years.”


Sides added that retailers who compete on differentiated products and experiences should be well positioned to outperform other competitors during the holiday season.  


Additionally, Deloitte forecasts that digital interactions will influence 67%, or $661 billion, of in-store sales this holiday season, fueled by shoppers’ use of digital devices including desktop and laptop computers, tablets and smartphones.


“The trend to watch is the way that online, mobile and store channels influence each other,” said Sides. “Large e-commerce players and digital platforms such as Facebook and Pinterest are shaping what people think a great shopping experience is – a fast, highly-curated assortment with access to visuals, information and buying sources. Since these bigger platforms are more connected to the customer, retailers should consider including them as part of their digital marketing campaigns this holiday season.”


As for the upcoming presidential election, Deloitte does not think it will have any impact on total holiday sales.


“While attention toward presidential elections may be a temporary distraction in the early part of the holiday shopping season, it should not have a negative impact on sales, and retailers may benefit from a pickup in postelection consumer spending,” said Daniel Bachman, Deloitte’s senior U.S. economist.

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