|Researcher Britt Beemer urges retailers to ‘listen to Americans’|
|Written by Christine D. Johnson|
|Thursday, 24 October 2013 10:03 AM EDT|
As the Christmas season approaches, America's Research Group (ARG) Chairman and CEO Britt Beemer says retail businesses may miss out on sales because they’re not listening.
“What is missing is that retail businesses in particular need to listen to Americans—to what American parents and households are telling us, which is that they need to have affordable products available to them and ways in which they can purchase them that make sense—this will, I believe, move the economy in a positive direction,” Beemer said. “Up until now, what businesses have done on a large scale is to cut expenses—fine for business, but American households are not motivated by lower expenses. Seventy-four percent of adults tell us they are more sale-price driven today than ever before; and, therefore, motivating the consumer in the days leading up to the holidays is going to involve an excessively aggressive discount strategy with incredible offers. Consumers will be looking for bigger discounts than ever before—or, more likely, they will not shop at all.”
Recent ARG consumer surveys show that 33% of American families are making less money as a result of job-loss; of moving from a full- to a part-time job; and/or are working a job that pays less than a previous one did. 40% of parents are trying to save as much money as they can for their children's college education. 38% of families did not take a vacation this year of four days or longer; and 44% of parents will do most of their back-to-school apparel shopping in December when the deals are better.
“All these things are going to affect Christmas shopping,” Beemer said. “What is going to happen this year is going to be that families are not going to be able to have anything extra to splurge on and that's the issue. Last year, 38% of adults did not buy gifts for each other—that number will likely be higher this year.
"In essence, you have two out of five parents saying things aren't good—and it is crucial that we look at this as the holiday season approaches,” he added. “We even have the National Retail Federation saying that back-to-school sales would be significantly down this year, which is a rarity for them.”
Beemer said businesses are going into the Christmas season with “no retail momentum” and he expects this seasons “will evolve into what could be the most challenging Christmas season in the history of America.”
Beemer disagrees with those who says there is an economy recovery underway.
“This deserves attention because many economic reports reinforce that there is a recovery in progress whereas our research suggests that a recovery is not taking place,” he said. “Last year we predicted—correctly—that we were experiencing the first real ‘Christmas Hibernation' where the entire United States of households literally ‘hibernated’—with the single exception of ‘Black Friday’ until the week before Christmas so they could buy only those items that were marked down to the lowest possible price. To have consumers only shop twice is a significant change—and it came even with an extra week of shopping thrown in last year.”