Millions of Americans will go back to stores on Thursday, the day after Christmas, looking for some new bargains. Retailers are offering deep discounts to keep customers in the spending spirit, and many shops are trying to make up for revenue they didn't get before Christmas.
CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger told the “CBS This Morning” co-hosts that stores are opening earlier, staying open later, and giving “deep discounts” to lure consumers into after-Christmas sales.
“We are hearing up to 70 percent for certain things -- apparel is deeply discounted,” Schlesinger said. “These stores just have to move the inventory. It’s very important for them to get through the calendar year, turn it over and look for a better holiday season next year, hopefully.”
With the onslaught of online sales and shopping, Schlesinger said that alternative options to shop “may have” impacted holiday sales, but Internet shopping can’t be the only reason retail numbers are down.
“It appears that holiday sales will be down about 3.1 percent from last year and I think that’s surprising to many people because we’re looking at an economy that is gaining some strength," she said. "I don’t really buy it’s all about online, because online sales are really only about 12-15 percent of all holiday sales.
"Most of the action is happening in the brick-and-mortar [stores], and it’s just confounding for a lot of analysts who are saying ‘We don’t get it. Things seem to be getting better and yet the holiday season -- not so great.’”
On the flip side, Schlesinger said it “could be” that consumers -- anticipating those deep discounts -- have been waiting to do their shopping for the day after Christmas.
“It could be that we’re becoming a lot smarter. Evidently, today and Saturday are going to be massive sale days -- the biggest days in the post-Christmas season for shopping,” she said. “But, that said, I think there is something about the elongation of how we’re shopping and that we’re shopping better and smarter -- apps, technology, all of those things.”
However, Schlesinger told the co-hosts that even if consumers are shopping smarter, it still “does not account for traffic being down.
“The big weekend before the holiday itself, the actual traffic is down pretty dramatically -- 21 percent,” she said. “So there’s something going on that’s different, but, again, it does not jive with better-than-expected economic news that we’ve seen in the last few weeks.”
Schlesinger explained that the disappointing holiday sales season is not a prediction of things to come with the nation’s economy.
“We are seeing really good strength. We know that the economy grew by a 4.1 percent annualized rate in the third quarter. We know that personal spending was up pretty robustly in November, actually by a half of a percent. We know that there is some good buying of longer term items -- things that are meant for three years or more -- and we see that the expectation for fourth-quarter growth has been increased by many analysts to two-and-a-half percent.”
She said that when looking back, this holiday season will “be a bit of anomaly,” and that “2014 should be a better year economically.”