More than 87 percent of store managers polled by North Plainfield-based Levin Management Corp. said they expect their holiday sales to meet or exceed last season.
That’s a record high, beating the average of 80.2 percent for the last four years of the poll.
Meanwhile, 72.1 percent of LMC tenants reported year-to-date sales at or above the volume at this time last year.
LMC surveyed managers from its 105 properties throughout the Northeast and mid-Atlantic. The survey tells a similar story to that of the National Retail Federation, which over the summer adjusted up the expected increase in 2018 retail sales from 3.8 percent to 4.5 percent over 2017.
The LMC survey also indicates that nearly half of all respondents expect peak sales between now and the end of Thanksgiving weekend. Approximately 13 percent of respondents expect peak sales in early December; 17.5 percent expect sales to peak mid-December; and 12.9 percent expect the high to be the weekend before Christmas.
About 8 percent expect their best sales week to land between Christmas and New Year’s.
“2018 will continue the trend of people shopping earlier,” said LMC President Matthew Harding in a statement. “That pre-Thanksgiving number has hovered just under 25 percent for three years straight. That’s double the percentages we were seeing prior to 2016, which reflects a significant and sustained shift in consumer patterns.”
To play to consumer habits and preferences, nearly 80 percent of respondents are planning to use social media and digital assets to reach customers. About 44 percent of respondents are planning seasonal sales and promotions to draw people in the door.
The National Retail Foundation’s 2018 Holiday Spending Survey indicated 71 percent of consumers cited sales and discounts as their main reason for picking a retailer. Sixty percent cited quality and selection of merchandise.
Nearly 32 percent of retailers are also using new motivators like in-store pickup of online orders and promotional events like classes and demonstrations to draw in customers.
“As brick-and-mortar retailers compete in a world offering the convenience of e-commerce, they are finding creative ways to drive traffic to their stores,” noted Melissa Sievwright, vice president of marketing at LMC, in a statement. “Certain aspects such as individualized customer service, the appeal of a well-presented store environment and ‘experiences’ that provide education or opportunities for social interaction, simply cannot be duplicated online. This is especially true during the holidays, a festive time when people want to come together and enjoy traditional sights and sounds.”