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Retailers hit new shades of ‘black’

BY Marianne Wilson

Online led the way on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, boasting hopes for a record holiday season spending.

Online sales grew across the three-day period from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to Black Friday, showing 21% year-over-year revenue growth and 11% purchase growth. Average order value over the same period was up 9%, according to Rakuten Marketing.

Thanksgiving Day saw a surge in online spending, with sales surging 18.3% to $2.87 billion, compared to last year, according to Adobe. On Black Friday, shoppers spent $5.03 billion online, higher than Adobe had forecast.

“Shoppers capitalized on deep discounts on Black Friday, resulting in the largest Black Friday online ever,” said Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights, in a report by TechCrunch. “Conversion rates across all devices saw double digit growth throughout Black Friday.”

On the store side, shopper visits declined a combined 1.6% for Thanksgiving and Black Friday when compared to the same days in 2016, ShopperTrak reported. Black Friday 2017 shopper visits decreased less than 1% when compared to Black Friday 2016.

“There has been a significant amount of debate surrounding the shifting importance of brick-and-mortar retail, and the fact that shopper visits remained intact on Black Friday illustrates that physical retail is still highly relevant and, when done right, profitable,” said Brian Field, senior director of advisory services for ShopperTrak.

“This year, a greater number of brick-and-mortar retailers opted to close on Thanksgiving Day, which not only allowed store associates to be with their families, but also redistributed shopping visits to surrounding days.”

The International Council of Shopping Centers reported that more than 145 million adults spent time at malls and shopping centers over the Black Friday wekend and estimated spending, on average, $377.50.

“It was a huge win,” Rod Sides, vice chairman of consulting firm Deloitte, told USA Today. “I think bricks and mortar (malls and stores) held their own this weekend, which is exactly what (retailers) were wanting and needing this holiday season.”

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Tax plan continues to gather mixed reviews

BY HBSDealer Staff

Death and taxes are said to be life’s two, big certainties. Maybe it’s time to add a third certainty to the list: disagreement over taxes.

All across Washington, D.C., lobbying groups are driving hard to promote their industry’s interests on the tax reform. In recent days, the following groups issued the following statements – for, against, and mixed:

• The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association

NLBMDA strongly supports several provisions in the legislation. First, full and permanent repeal of the estate tax. Second, lowering the corporate income tax rate to a flat rate of 20 percent. Third, the immediate write-off (or "expensing") of the cost of new qualified property through 2022.

However, NLBMDA strongly opposes changes to the state and local tax (SALT) deduction. The legislation eliminates the itemized deductions for state and local income and sales taxes, but allows individuals to deduct up to $10,000 for property taxes. These changes will harm individuals living in areas with higher local and state taxes, and make it more difficult for businesses in those areas to retain and attract workers.

• The Home Depot

“The Home Depot is very supportive of tax reform that would fuel the economy by putting more money in the majority of Americans' pockets while improving the competitive position of companies so they can create more jobs. We applaud Congress for its efforts in moving tax reform forward.”

• The Window & Door Manufacturers Association

“The WDMA is expressing continued concern with the tax reform bill passed [last week] by the House of Representatives, particularly the provisions affecting home ownership. While some provisions would be positive steps towards a pro-growth economy, limiting the mortgage interest deduction (MID) and its applicability could be detrimental to businesses, middle-class families and the overall economy.”

The statement included a quote from WDMA President and CEO Michael O’Brien. "WDMA remains seriously concerned with the home ownership provisions of the House bill, namely the weakening of the mortgage interest deduction, including disallowing the deduction for home equity loans. The MID's benefits range from helping middle-class taxpayers buy a home to allowing them to deduct interest on home equity loans, which are frequently used to replace windows and doors with energy-efficient replacements. The changes in this bill could affect millions of taxpayers, as well as manufacturers across the country.  We remain opposed to attempts to weaken the MID and WDMA urges the Senate to protect this important cornerstone of American housing policy, including for home equity loans."

• The National Retail Federation

The NRF welcomed [the] approval of tax reform legislation by the Senate Finance Committee and urged approval of the bill by the full Senate.

“With this pro-growth measure now approved by committee, we urge senators to spend the Thanksgiving break building consensus on how to pass tax reform and to set aside any differences that might keep this vitally important goal from becoming reality,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Tax reform is the key to increased prosperity that small businesses, large employers and middle-class workers have all been waiting for for more than a generation. This is about jobs, wages and America’s future.

"NRF has led the retail industry’s fight for tax reform for years, calling on Congress to eliminate tax breaks that benefit only some industries and to use the revenue saved to lower rates for all companies, including small businesses. A recent NRF analysis found that reducing the corporate tax rate to 20 percent could result in the creation of between 500,000 and 1.5 million new jobs throughout the economy."

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Sears raises the stakes for free delivery

BY HBSDealer Staff

In an effort to ramp up holiday sales, Sears and Kmart are offering free home delivery for online purchases of $399 or greater.

The offer is effective Nov. 27 through Dec. 25 and is being run in conjunction with additional promotions from the retailer, including a 40% discount on appliances. Sears and Kmart are also offering free shipping on online orders of $25 or more.

"Members have the flexibility to shop online for millions of products and then choose free shipping or free home delivery, including numerous installation options,” Leena Munjal, senior vice president, customer experience and integrated retail at Sears Holdings, said in a prepared statement.

On Nov. 8, Sears Holdings reported that it had reached an agreement that will allow the retailer to sell an additional 140 locations after announcing it would be closing 63 more locations. 

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