Holiday Retail Sales Seen Rising By 4%

Ad Specialty Distributors Feeling Bullish

Holiday Sales ForecastAnalysts are optimistic about the upcoming holiday shopping season with many predicting a modest, but positive boost in retail sales compared to last year. That fourth-quarter optimism is echoed by ad specialty distributors, with many bullish on logoed corporate gift-giving programs and end-of-year sales in general.

This week, Deloitte forecast a 4% to 4.5% increase in November through January holiday sales, an improvement over 2013’s 2.8% gain. The financial consultancy expects retail sales, excluding motor vehicles and gasoline, to climb as high as $986 billion this year. Online and mail order sales are also expected to be strong, with Deloitte predicting a roughly 14% jump in non-store sales.

“Income, wage and job growth are positive indicators heading into the holiday season,” said Daniel Bachman, senior U.S. economist for Deloitte. “Debt levels remain at historic lows, and stock market gains coupled with increasing home prices have a wealth effect on consumers, which may encourage increased spending compared to prior years.”

The so-called wealth effect is evident in the corporate world, as well, according to distributors. “Budgets are growing again, and companies are seeing the value in holiday appreciation gifts,” said Andrew Janosick, vice president and partner of Proforma Executive Business Services (asi/300094). Though holiday gift orders don’t typically start in earnest until October, the Proforma distributor began receiving end-of-year inquiries as early as August this year. Revenues at the company have increased more than 115% over the last three years, and Janosick expects the fourth quarter to further that upward trend.

Sterling Wilson, president of Pop! Promos (asi/45657), is optimistic that year-over-year fourth-quarter sales at his company will double, especially after the recent addition of popular wearable items, like Pantone-matched touchscreen gloves, to its offerings.

Top 40 distributor The Vernon Company (asi/351700) also predicts a strong performance this holiday season, to cap off an already strong year. In the last six months alone, the company has seen revenue gains of close to 20%, according to Dave Regan, vice president of sales and marketing. He attributes the ongoing success, in part, to a new initiative where Vernon account executives spend quality time with key corporate buyers to learn more about their business and needs. “We are super excited about what the future holds,” Regan said.