Digital Set to Power 2017 Holiday Sales

Analysts say that the stable economy, an improving labor market and a longer holiday shopping season — one extra weekend day this year — are expected to boost holiday sales by about four percent from a year ago. 

This may be a make or break holiday season for some brands. Atop the list would be Toys “R” Us, which filed for bankruptcy protection in September in order to get loans to pay its vendors and stock its shelves for the upcoming holiday season; Sears Holdings, which has been closing stores, shuffling debt and selling assets; and Neiman Marcus, which is being weighed down by $4.8 billion in debt and recently reported its third annual loss in four years.

From the e-commerce perspective, 2017 could see a major milestone: the online holiday season, which includes November and December, is poised to be the first to break $100 billion, according to Adobe Digital research. The Thanksgiving weekend contributes a big portion of that total, generating nearly $20 billion dollars—that’s up 13.8 percent from a year ago. Cyber Monday is set to remain the overall leader with both the highest predicted revenue and fastest growth – a 16.5 percent increase from a year ago. Last year, it was the largest online sales day in history, when shoppers spent a record $3.39 billion online, which surpassed the Black Friday online sales total of $3.34 billion.

While online sales have been seeing big gains in the share of holiday spending, brick and mortar remains where about 80 percent of holiday sales are rung up, even if consumers begin their searches on line or via mobile. According to Deloitte, 30 percent of respondents to their holiday survey said that it is important that retailers have both a physical and an online presence.

Consumer advocates warn that your chances of snatching a great deal for a quality item during the Thanksgiving-Cyber Monday mania are limited, because the four-day period is designed to lure Americans into stores – or on line – with limited quantities of sale items. Once there, retailers hope you buy full-priced or excess inventory. And if you’re in the market for one of this year’s hottest gifts — game consoles like Nintendo’s Super NES Classic or Microsoft’s Xbox; or cutting-edge smart phones like Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Apple’s iPhone X, you may not find a discount, or the item itself.

If you still want to try, start by comparing prices for your desired items on Google and at multiple outlets. Then before you hit the brick and mortar stores, download apps that can help you save money. Snip Snap converts printed coupons into mobile-friendly offers, which you redeem using your screen; Shopkick rewards you with free gift cards for the shopping you already do; and Flipp creates digital versions of circulars from retailers and combines coupons with these local flyers for savings.