NEW YORK — Toys and TVs at J.C. Penney, Barbies at Best Buy, kitchen appliances like wine refrigerators at B.J.’s. As the holiday shopping season officially kicks off Thursday, shoppers may find some surprises at their favorite stores.
Even as retailers are counting on a lift from a better economy, they’re looking beyond economic data and mapping out ways to pick up sales from other retailers as Amazon expands its reach. That can mean opening earlier than rivals on the holidays or even jumping into new product categories. The fight for market share comes as analysts at Bain say Amazon is expected to take half of the holiday season’s sales growth. And Amazon is the top destination for people to begin holiday shopping, according to a September study by market research firm NPD Group.
“The retailers are in survival mode. It’s about stealing each other’s market share,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD. “Amazon is the Grinch. They’re stealing the growth.”
With the jobless rate at a 17-year-low of 4.1 percent and consumer confidence stronger than a year ago, analysts project healthy sales increases for November and December. The National Retail Federation trade group expects sales for that period to at least match last year’s rise of 3.6 percent and estimates online spending and other non-store sales will rise 11 percent to 15 percent.
Amazon is expected to be a big beneficiary as it cements loyalty among its Prime members and moves into new services and private-label merchandise. The company has introduced more than 20 such brands in the past two years in clothing, electronics, groceries and more, says Bain.
That leaves stores looking at rivals to see where they can pick up sales. There are extra dollars up for grabs this year, after thousands of store locations have closed and several retailers including Gymboree and Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy protection.
Jordan Ascencio, who has sons aged 1, 7, and 8, plans to bypass Toys R Us on Black Friday after being turned off by what she says are dirty stores and skimpy supplies. The latest problem: Her online order was canceled following a large-scale coupon glitch.
“I am not a fan anymore,” said the resident of Sapulpa, Oklahoma. Instead, she plans to buy toys at J.C. Penney and Target.
And with Gymboree shuttering a quarter of its stores, Ascencio is buying more of her children’s clothing at Target, which has launched a number …read more
Source:: Deseret News – Business News