NRF: Blue skies ahead for holiday 2014?

This is probably not the first time that a RetailWire discussion on the topic of the National Retail Federation has shown up on this blog. The NRF has a habit of being optimistic, not matter what the headwinds or external circumstances. Here’s my viewpoint:

It’s as predictable as tomorrow’s sunrise that the NRF will issue an optimistic forecast for the holiday season. They are correct about some tailwinds (improving employment, lower gas prices), and consumer sentiment measures appear to be on the uptick, but there is no consistent trend yet. The economy needs to “raise all boats” before we can expect this kind of result.

As long as sales of electronics (other than the new iPhone) and apparel continue to be soft, it’s hard to see where the 4% increase is coming from. But there will be some clear winners: Stores like Costco with a strong existing trend, stores like Target with easier comps, companies who lost traffic last year due to weather, and retailers who execute their “omnichannel” logistics better than last year’s fiasco.


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