As the holiday season quickly approaches, it's a time to start gauging consumer shopping habits and the current state of the overall economy. This year is primed to be a positive one for retailers who can hope to see the best season in several years. So what exactly can retailers expect?
Signs for a strong 2012 holiday season began to emerge earlier this year with increases in gross sales and average sale per visitor, which is a clear indication that this holiday season promises to be an active, lucrative one for retailers. In recent weeks, a number of our tenants, including H&M, Le Creuset and Urban Outfitters, have reported an increase in foot traffic and preseason spending on items such as holiday attire, as well as higher end items and brands.
We've also noticed that while people are spending, they are extremely conscious to choose items that make a statement. Consumers are looking for pieces that demonstrate they have spent money on a gift that can be used every day, to stand out or for special occasions. As the economy continues to rebound, we aren't surprised that retailers are already seeing a pick-up in luxury goods sales and are confident that sales will be stronger this year than the 2011 holiday season.
Black Friday started earlier than ever on both the retailer and consumer sides this year. Last year, nearly a quarter of Black Friday shoppers were at a store by midnight, so in response, retailers opened their doors even earlier with many opening on Thanksgiving.
One point to note is that the timing of sales hasn't changed much; people are still waiting for the Thanksgiving benchmark to officially start their holiday shopping. A few merchants who have had competitive sale pricing in mid-November have seen a boost, but overall timing is expected to stay consistent with previous years.
Finally, in addition to great gifts, we're also taking the extra step to make sure our customers have a great experience with special holiday hours, live entertainment, valet parking, a variety of dining options both casual and gourmet and exciting new retailers. All these elements are increasingly important in creating a memorable and efficient shopping experience for both our merchants and customers.
— Chris Weilminster is senior vice president of leasing for Federal Realty Investment Trust. Weilminster is responsible for all leasing and merchandising for the firm's shopping center properties, redevelopment and new development projects. He can be reached at