Wednesday, November 3, 2021
“We all know it's been another historic year in terms of transformation and incredible growth in the retail industry, as we continue to work through both the changing behaviors of consumers, as well as the changes brought about by the pandemic, and any evolving external issues, related to supply chain, workforce, inflation and others,” Shay said. “Overall, 2021 is a much better year than 2020 for many reasons. Certainly, there's been a lot more certainty about the way in which we handle the pandemic. And we've seen great progress on that front end for retailers.”
Observing encouraging signs of pre-holiday season momentum among consumers in Q4 2021, Shay noted household balance sheets have never been stronger, stating retailers are investing in supply chains to ensure they have products on their shelves to meet exceptional consumer demand.
For additional information about NRF’s retail holiday forecast, visit the NRF’s holiday page at nrf.com/topics/holiday-and-seasonal-trends/winter-holidays .
Concurring with Shay that the holiday season outlook is bright, NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz stated that household spending has steadily increased throughout 2021..
“Pandemic-related supply chain disruptions have caused shortages of merchandise and most of this year’s inflationary pressure,” he said. “With the prospect of consumers seeking to shop early, inventories may be pulled down sooner and shortages may develop in the later weeks of the shopping season. However, if retailers can keep merchandise on the shelves and merchandise arrives before Christmas, it could be a stellar holiday sales season.”
Kleinhenz further noted that household wealth has reached record highs and retailers will provide jobs to between 500,00 and 665,000 seasonal workers, up from 486,000 seasonal hires during the previous year. In addition, weather patterns of cooler, wetter weather in the north and warmer, drier weather in the south, may drive strong retail sales, as it has in previous years, he added.
Retailers need to plan ahead to prepare for peak season, which NRF defines as the period between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, taking supply chain issues and consumer preferences for omnichannel retail into account, according to John Federman, chief executive officer at JRNI, an appointment scheduling service provider. Part of that preparation is using advanced technology designed to schedule appointments in advance and remotely manage virtual queuing, he stated.
“Scheduling an in-person or virtual appointment provides customers and retail associates one-on-one interaction, offering a better customer experience, overall and drives much higher conversion rates, Federman said. “With options to have customers log what they are looking for ahead of their appointments, associates are prepped with the knowledge of exactly what customers are looking for to further personalize suggestions and enhance customer satisfaction and long-term loyalty.”
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