By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
That great American pastime, shopping, is getting revved up. Last week, the Commerce Department said retail sales jumped 1.1 percent in September. Combined with August, the two-month spending spree was the best two-month showing in two years.
Another report showed companies were building up their inventory, which means they’re anticipating higher sales.
Why is this important? Consumer spending drives two-thirds of the U.S. economy. The more we spend, the better off we are.
Don’t think too hard about that statement, since it’s a double-edged sword.
But back to that September retail report: It was good news for almost every major category. Electronics and appliances sales drew 4.5 percent, with iPhone sales spurring activity. Autos, building materials and garden supplies, furniture and clothing also grew.
Higher gas prices also contributed to higher retail sales, but economists said sales still rose a “solid” 0.9 percent without figuring in auto and gas station sales.
“The consumer is back,” said Naroff Economic Advisors chief economist Joel Naroff.
And they’re back, just in time for the holidays.
Yep, forget Halloween, which appears to be joining Thanksgiving as a forgotten holiday. Retailers are shooting ahead to Christmas, already brandishing their holiday wares.
Kmart and Wal-mart are pushing their layaway services so consumers can stock away some of their Christmas wish list items.
Which means some of those hot items you’re looking for may already be in short supply, socked away in a bag or box in the back of a store or a secured trailer in the parking lot.
As I mentioned a few weeks back, Christmas trees and ornaments already are on display in Hobby Lobby.
“Christmas in July” used to be a marketing tactic. Now it seems to be turning into the norm.
Target – everybody’s favorite store we don’t have in Tupelo – has taken some heat from some in the retail industry for starting to run its Christmas ads early.
According to Advertising Age, Target has a TV commercial featuring its bull terrier mascot Bullseye carrying a shopping bag. “The holidays are coming and they’re gonna be big,” the commercial says.
Based on early social media responses, Ad Age says consumers aren’t happy with Target’s early holiday push.
Defenders of Target’s practice say the retailer is merely trying to stay in the hunt for holiday spenders since it doesn’t have a layaway program. So to stay top of mind for consumers, Target – and others – are pushing sales now.
If this trend continues, we’ll be seeing Christmas promotions start in, oh, March or April, right after Easter.
Contact Business Editor Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.