Christmas 2009 turned out to be much merrier for the nation’s retailers than the dismal days of December 2008. Some national chains reported as much as double-digit increases in their stores after rebounding from one of the worst seasons in decades. An estimated 75 percent of retailers said they beat industry estimates in holiday sales.
University of South Carolina Retailing Department Chair Marianne Bickle says by looking at statistics in speciic categories these statistics tell us about the retail industry possibilities in 2010.
“In retailing, what’s so important is to find out where consumers are buying, what they are buying, and how they are buying. In retail,” continues Bickle, “what we really want to find out are consumer trends.” She says the next step is to see how retailers can capitalize and learn from those trends as well as “how to adapt to those trends.”
Retailers learned a hard lesson last year by stocking up on too much inventory. “Gone are heavy inventory,” says Bickle. “You’ll notice that in 2009 there was a lot less inventory than in 2008. In 2008 consumers had a lot of inventory in which to choose from.”
She said that if you see something you like, better not chance it being there if you plan to wait a week before purchasing it. ” In 2008, you had plenty of choices. In 2009, if you saw something on sale and you didn’t buy it then saying, ‘I’m going to come back next week,’ it was gone.”
Does this mean that consumer confidence is back? “I hear from retailers that spending is coming back up, that it’s doing a lot better,” says Bickle. “But from retailers, I’m also hearing that they’re very grateful for consumers and they’re treating their consumers well. And I’m hearing a lot of gratitude -both on the side of consumers and on the side of retailers.”