With the holidays around the corner, some U.S. consumers say they will spend more or the same as last year on holiday purchases by year’s end, although still not as much as pre-recession standards, according to a new survey by the consulting firm AlixPartners.
The “U.S. Holiday Sales Forecast and Consumer Survey” finds 83% of the 1,008 consumers responding plan to spend about the same or more on holiday shopping this year, and 32% plan to start shopping earlier than last year.
The firm projects retail sales tied to the holidays to increase 3.3% to 4% over 2015.
“This year, we’re anticipating sales that continue to be a bit better than the year before, but still not up to historical, pre-recession standards that much of the industry became used to,” said AlixPartners e-commerce director Noam Paransky.
While the data bodes well for many big retail stores around the country, online shopping could continue to take retail dollars away from traditional brick-and-mortar stores. More than 40% of respondents say they will research at least half of their holiday spending online, while only 6% say they do not plan to make any online purchases.
Historically, presidential elections have impacted holiday sales, but only slightly. Retail sales are most adversely impacted in September and October, during past election years, with significant bounce-backs coming in November and December.
Surprisingly, August 2016 showed a rare month-over-month decline, only the second time in over two decades that both July and August sales weakened. However, both in 1993 and 2013, September to December sales picked up, and analysts predict a similar trend for the end of the 2016.
The AlixPartners survey was conducted during the second week in September.