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September 30, 2022
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Brick and Mortar Sales Expected to Surge this Holiday Season


This report was provided by CBRE

More consumers will return to brick-and-mortar stores for annual gift purchases this holiday season, with in-store sales expected to jump significantly compared to 2020. Faced with the prospect of higher costs and hard-to-find items, shoppers are expected to put gift cards at the top of the gift-giving list in order to avoid package delivery delays and in-store merchandise shortages, due to well-publicized supply chain challenges.

CBRE’s annual Holiday Trends Guide highlights trends in both retailing and consumer shopping, as well as the impact of those shifts on the U.S. commercial real estate retail market.

Holiday retail sales figures are comprised of U.S. retail sales in November and December, excluding auto, gas, and restaurants. Various sources1 forecast total holiday sales to increase between 7% and 10.5% this year. Based on U.S. Census Bureau data and a range of industry estimates, CBRE anticipates an increase of 8.4% from last year to more than $800 bil.

Brick-and-mortar retail sales, which were essentially flat last year, when COVID concerns dissuaded some shoppers from venturing out, are expected to rise by 8%, a 10-year high, as shoppers return to stores. E-commerce will expand as well, rising between 10% and 15%, according to various industry estimates. A National Retail Federation (NRF) survey shows that consumers plan to make more in-store purchases in most categories, including department stores, discount stores, grocery, outlets and small shops.

“There is a lot of pent-up demand in Southern California and across the U.S.,” said Jamie Brooks, Los Angeles-based First Vice President. “People are really looking to re-connect socially with family, friends and colleagues, considering last year we had to deal with a second round of shutdowns during the holiday shopping season. Food & beverage, apparel as well as luxury goods will likely be strong.”

Los Angeles-based Senior Vice President Andrew Turf agrees, “We expect in-person holiday shopping across Southern California to be significantly higher this year. Particularly, Los Angeles’s outdoor retail centers are set to benefit greatly. We expect people will be out and about and spending money in a way we haven’t seen before.”

But keeping the shelves stocked won’t be easy for retailers. With supply chain bottlenecks and national warehouse vacancy at a historic low of 3.6%, retailers will have to be prepared to avoid inventory shortages. The ratio of retailers’ inventory levels to sales plummeted this year to 1.10 in August – compared to 1.47 prior to COVID, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Many retailers are turning to costly air freight to get more products to locations on time. In most cases, consumers can expect to see these rising transportation and supply chain costs reflected in higher prices at the checkout counter.

In addition, the holiday season is typically a massive hiring period for the retail industry, but labor shortages loom. As of August, there was an estimated 1.2 million job openings in the retail trade, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a rise of 62% year-over-year. Many smaller retailers may struggle to find the labor they need to handle the holiday rush.

“Big retailers have been building their inventory and extending holiday sales initiatives, so we likely will see less scarcity in big retail stores, but small and local shops are likely to be impacted by the labor shortages and supply chain challenges,” said Brooks. “The regional labor market is tight, and retailers are offering increased wages, signing bonuses and flexible work schedules to attractive employees. However, the labor shortage could impact some categories more, such as the restaurant industry.”

He added, “The good news is, retailers are effectively utilizing technology to improve the in-store customer experience through mobile apps and other features, such as curbside pick-up, that have become more popular during the pandemic.”

1 Sources: Deloitte, KPMG, Mastercard, National Retail Federation.

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