Holiday sales to grow as much as 4%
Deloitte is forecasting holiday sales will increase between 3.5% and 4% as the economy’s health and the presidential election take center stage among consumers this fall.
Despite some distractions this year, retailers should expect a modest increase in 2012 holiday sales, according to Deloitte’s annual holiday forecast release Tuesday morning.
"Economic headwinds nagging consumers this fall include stubbornly high gasoline prices that continue to creep up and soft housing and job markets," said Carl Steidtmann, Deloitte’s chief economist. "While consumers turned out in the summer to give retailers solid gains for a few months, that pace may be difficult to sustain through the end of the year. Consumers and businesses alike may pause in advance of the election; however, retailers may benefit from a post-election consumer spending boost."
Deloitte’s retail and distribution practice expects total holiday sales to climb to between $920 and $925 billion, representing a 3.5% to 4% increase in November through January holiday sales when compared to last year. While that is a respectable increase, it is below last year’s growth rate of 5.9%.
Additionally, Deloitte forecasts a 15% to 17% percent increase in non-store sales, which is primarily attributable to ecommerce. Nearly three-quarters of non-store sales result from the online channel with additional sales coming from catalogs and interactive TV.
"Non-store sales continue to outpace overall growth, but increasingly influence consumers’ experience with the retail store, from trip planning, to in-store product research, and post-purchase reviews and sharing," said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and retail & distribution sector leader. "This holiday season, retailers’ most lucrative customers may be the ones they engage across physical and virtual storefronts."
Paul noted that consumers might also consolidate or reduce trips to the store in response to higher gas prices. Conversely, she added, consumers are expected to keep a sharp eye on promotions and pricing, making retailers’ digital connections with consumers before and during each shopping trip even more critical this year.
"This year, we anticipate retailers will come to the starting gate with true omni-channel pricing strategies, as opposed to disparate or reactionary strategies of the past," said Paul. "Consumers should see more price transparency across mobile, online and store channels, and retailers will use these same channels to gain insights into their core customers’ behavior. Retailers that interpret and respond to real-time information about shoppers can hit the right notes on pricing and promotions that drive traffic without eroding margins."
Deloitte forecasts that mobile-influenced retail store sales will account for 5.1 percent, or $36 billion, in retail store sales this year as consumers increase store-related smartphone activity such as product research, price comparison or mobile application use.
"Retailers that welcome the smartphone shopper in their stores with mobile applications and wi-fi access, rather than fear the showrooming effect, can be better positioned to accelerate their in-store sales this holiday season," said Paul.
The firm’s recent research shows shoppers armed with smartphones are 14% more likely to make a purchase in the store than those who do not use a smartphone as part of their in-store journey.
"The mobile channel is a powerful customer engagement tool, enabling retailers to capture a shopper’s attention at the point-of-purchase, while gleaning valuable information about shopper behavior regardless of the shopper’s location," Paul said.
Rubbermaid offers new scrubbers and plungers
Newell Rubbermaid, a marketer of consumer and commercial products, has announced the introduction of Rubbermaid Bathroom Scrubbers and the Rubbermaid Clean & Dry Plunger.
Rubbermaid Bathroom Scrubbers provide four tools including the Spray Scrubber, Extendable Scrubber, Flexible Scrub Brush and 2-in-1 Scrubber.
A variety of switchable pads are available including Scour, Sponge, Bristle and Disposable Pads.
"Our research tells us again and again that when consumers use Rubbermaid solutions in their homes, they feel free to live their lives and focus on what really matters," said Steve Pawl, VP of Marketing for Rubbermaid. "This insight naturally extends to the bathroom, where consumers are constantly seeking simpler and more effective solutions.”
Survey: Clean workplace restrooms valued by employees
The results of a new national survey revealed that the majority of U.S. workers believe that the state and cleanliness of their workplace restrooms is one indicator of how a company values its employees.
The Healthy Hand Washing Survey 2012, conducted by Bradley Corp., a manufacturer of commercial hand washing products, showed that 83% of Americans believe the condition of restrooms in the workplace indicates to employees just how much their company values them. The survey also found that 66% of employees rate their workplace restroom as excellent or very good.
However, approximately one-third (34%) reported they’ve experienced toilets that were clogged or not flushed, bad smells, and toilet paper or towel dispensers that are empty or jammed.
Survey respondents equated unclean restrooms at other businesses with poor management, and nearly one-third (31%) said they would never frequent the business again.
Hand washing needs to improve
A majority of Americans are not washing their hands long enough, according to the survey. Fifty-seven percent of respondents estimated that they wash their hands for just five to 15 seconds, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends washing for at least 20 seconds to allow enough time to remove germs.
The survey also found that most Americans (75%) don’t adjust their hand washing habits during flu season.
Employees score well on hand washing in the workplace, however. Only 11% of survey participants said they frequently see people leave the bathroom at work without washing their hands, compared to the national results, where 30% of Americans claimed to frequently see people skip hand washing at public restrooms.
Top reasons for not washing hands
The top three reasons given for not washing hands were:
• Used hand sanitizer instead.
• No soap in restroom.
• No paper towels in restroom.
According to the CDC, while hand sanitizer can be beneficial, washing with soap and water is the best way to reduce germs.
Sixty-two percent of respondents admitted they have simply rinsed their hands with water after using a public restroom, which is an increase since 2011 when 54% admitted to the soap-free rinse.
Bradley has conducted its survey for the past several years, but this is the first time the company has looked into the workplace. The survey queried 1,046 U.S. adults Aug. 1 to 3, 2012, about their hand washing habits. Participants were from around the country, ranged in age from 18 to 65 and older, and were evenly split between men (49%) and women (51%).
Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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