Holiday Shopping 2009 Predictions

November 26, 2009

Last November, I talked about doom and gloom and retail being in big trouble.

While some pundits are now talking about how great this holiday shopping season will be, I’m just cautiously optimistic.

10%+ unemployement really does hurt. Consumers still won’t spend like it’s 2007 because we simply can’t (less cash, less credit, behind on mortgage payments, mortgage still under water, concerns over rising prices, etc.), and we actually know better (consumers are actually saving money – I love that graph!). At the same time, merchants have cut back on inventory because they know better (they don’t want to be stuck with tons of inventory) and simply can’t buy goods (they have credit concerns as well).

But there are some positive signs which will drive strong growth in selected areas. I’m predicting some high end retailers will do particularly well. Why? First, rich people feel richer as their stock portfolios have risen 60% since the scary lows of March. Second, parts of Wall Street are seeing 40% increases in bonuses. Third, a lot of people feel we’ve hit a bottom and therefore are willing to spend a more.

Moving to the other end of society (everyone who doesn’t work at Goldman???), the big discount chains will continue to do well as consumers are looking for great bargains and deals. We want good stuff cheap. Walmart and Target will help us save money and live better. And because you’re already shopping at Walmart for your essential holiday toys for your tots, why not pick up a holiday toy for the big kids as well? The big discount chains will move plenty of 42″ LCD HDTVs and other electronics this holiday shopping season.

And what about online retailers?
comScore predicts 3% year over year growth. Amazon will do incredibly well, again. And smart online marketers will benefit as consumers compare prices looking for the best deals. We’ll start our search at Google, check out organic listings, sponsored listings (fancy Product Ads and Extension Ads), and OneBox listings in their cool new 5 Pack format, head over to an affiliate site for a coupon, and make sure there’s free shipping before we purchase. There will be a lot of curiosity clicks and a lot of comparison shopping, but the online retailers working multiple online marketing channels effectively (SEO, PPC, Email, Affiliate, Comparison Engines, etc.) in concert with smart promotions (free shipping) will succeed. You will hear about 10% year over year growth for some online retailers.

Hopefully that sounds cautiously optimistic enough. Not as much doom and gloom from me. But know that positive year over year comparisons will be easy to make. There will be a tendency for stupid news outlets to talk about incredibly strong holiday shopping numbers. Please take some of the reports with a grain or 7 of salt. Coming off the worst year in decades, we should pat ourselves on the back a little, but just because mall traffic is up, it doesn’t mean consumers have gone back to their old spending ways.

Search. Compare. Conquer. BizRate’s new look.

November 17, 2009

I really haven’t dug deep enough to see what’s under the new coat of paint at bizrate, but it’s worth mentioning that the site is definitely repositioning itself around price as opposed to just being a consumer ratings company. From the press releases, bizrate seems to be focusing on value.

The left hand nav bar now focuses on price as opposed to other product attributes that Shopzilla focuses on:

Focusing on value? Seems like a good move for this cash and credit strapped economy.

Become Launches Holiday Section

November 4, 2009

Looks like Become gave it’s developers Sunday off and launched its holiday section on Monday.

Holiday features of Become include:
Holiday gift guides
Black Friday deals
Free shipping offers
Holiday shopping tips

Really happy to see one of the shopping engines talking about Black Friday!
The shopping tips section isn’t really about the holidays, but still should be highlighted. Become has a ton of buying guide content. Some of it is there for the search engines, but I also found a lot of valuable information.

Anyone Attending Pubcon Vegas?

November 4, 2009

Still debating if I should go to Pubcon. If there are enough data feed lovers attending, I’d make the quick trip. Comment or email me (brian at comparisonengines dot com).

Holiday Shopping Begins!

November 2, 2009

Kudos to Yahoo! Shopping to be the first of the major shopping engines to start holiday merchandising! I consider November 1 to be the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Halloween out. Holidays in.

Yahoo! Shopping has a number of great features (new and old) that help consumers make smart buying decisions. I got lost in a sea of buying guides, most popular products lists, expert research, lots of coupons, and more. Will cover in an upcoming post.

CIT Files for Bankruptcy

November 2, 2009

Over the summer I wrote about CIT’s potential bankruptcy. While a bailout helped it survive the last quarter, CIT officially filed for Chapter 11 protection today.

CIT is an essential part of the small business world. As we look to the holiday shopping season, if merchants or their supply chain can’t get credit, it’s just going to get ugly out there. CIT’s spin says that the pre-packaged bankruptcy will make everything ok, but I’m not buying the story. And unfortunately, if small businesses look for new lenders, that’s probably not going to be so easy, as this CNBC report hints. Credit market is still way too tight.

Some pundits are starting to project healthy numbers for retailers this holiday shopping season. Yes, I think some retailers will do well, but if you’re only looking at year over year numbers, you’re only getting part of the story. We might not have fallen off a second cliff – and that is something to cheer – but we also aren’t going to be celebrating like it’s 2007.


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