Dominica Malone has a new job and more money to spend this holiday season.
Don’t count on it.
I had to get a car to get to work, so that is a new bill along with the other bills I have to pay, said the 26-year-old Fort Wayne mother of two and tobacco accessories sales associate. I’ll go shopping, but I won’t be buying anything for myself and no toys for my girls. They only end up breaking them anyway.
Malone isn’t being a scrooge, according to a recent survey by financial services firm Edward Jones of St. Louis. The poll found nearly 40 percent of Americans intend to spend less this Christmas. It helps explain why the firm anticipates holiday sales to increase by only 2.8 percent from a year ago.
The National Retail Federation expects the average holiday shopper to spend $737.95 on gifts, décor, greeting cards and more – 2 percent less than the $752.24 they actually spent last year.
The Washington, D.C., organization is forecasting holiday sales will rise 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion from last year’s figures.
Retailers are on the offensive. What once may have seemed gimmicky – opening on Thanksgiving – is becoming the norm. This year, many major retailers will open after folks have finished their turkey.
Wal-Mart, Sears, Target and Best Buy are among them. And you can add Kohl’s to the list.
We didn’t do it last year, but we are responding to what the customer wants, said Adam Skaggs, manager of Kohl’s on Coliseum Boulevard in Northcrest Shopping Center. The demand is there.
Skaggs said that for many employees, opening at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving is better than having them come in at midnight.
It’s more of a normal shift, he said, adding the store will remain open through Friday.
The move to open on Thanksgiving comes as Kohl’s third-quarter net income dipped 18 percent as a key sales barometer declined – missing Wall Street expectations. Kohl’s earned $177 million, or 81 cents per share, for the quarter that ended Nov. 2. A year earlier it earned $215 million, or 91 cents per share.
But Kohl’s is not by itself in trying to boost its fortunes this holiday season. Others retailers are out to persuade shoppers to part with their hard-earned money in an economy dealing with weak job growth and higher payroll taxes.
Brian Yarbrough, consumer discretionary analyst for Edward Jones in St. Louis, isn’t surprised.
While we expect some sales growth in the retail market this holiday season, those polled expressed a conservative view on holiday spending, he stated in an analysis. This differs from our retail forecasts for the remainder of the year. We anticipate solid numbers from most retailers with luxury players leading the charge.
The survey was conducted during the government shutdown, which experts say affected consumer confidence. Retailers have cause for alarm because just 18 percent of the respondents said they planned to spend more this year.
Americans have been inundated by negative headlines regarding changes in economic policy, the impact of rising interest rates and disparate political views coming out of Washington, Yarbrough said. It’s clear that these issues have heightened uncertainty and caused individuals to second-guess their saving and spending behaviors. However, it’s important to stay the course and take a long-term approach to spending, saving and investing, especially with all of the short-term uncertainty.
Glenbrook Square General Manager Brian Cote is doing just that.
Officials at the shopping center are trying to move on from a water main break that plagued them this month.
About 30 stores remained closed as of Friday.
Cote said he expects holiday traffic to be up this year with the addition of Carson’s department store, which filled a space occupied by Marshall Field’s, a retailer that closed in 2005.
People are already out and the weekends are wall-to-wall in here, Cote said. Carson’s has generated a lot of excitement. I was in there the other day and it was just packed.
And in-store specials should help generate traffic at other stores as well.
Wal-Mart Stores is dangling a 32-inch flat-screen TV for $98, down from $148 last year.
Sears has waived layaway fees and its Kmart chain is introducing a rent-to-own program. Another attention-grabbing stunt: a $1 million jackpot for one of the first shoppers to visit Gap Inc.’s Old Navy chain on Black Friday.
We will be seeing promotions significantly above the current 30 percent off, which are the opening table stakes, said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, a consulting firm in New Canaan, Conn. Stores have too much inventory, which doesn’t bode well for 2014.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.