The National Retail Federation’s November/December 2016 numbers on retail sales for the 2016 holiday season are in. These numbers are based on data from the Commerce Department which includes all retail categories.
Although toy sales are not highlighted in their report, numbers on overall retail sales are are a good indicator of shopping habits and trends. A 4% increase was reported over 2015 with non-store sales up 12.6% over 2015. The two specific retail types that showed decreases were General Merchandise Stores and Department Stores.
At the National Retail Federation’s Big Show event held in New York January 14-16, Linda Kirkpatrick, Executive Vice President for U.S. market development with MasterCard, stated in her keynote: “There is no doubt that we’ve seen a permanent shift in the way consumers shop and behave.” She noted that “consumers across all age groups are more willing to spend on experiences rather than things and are more interested in retailers who offer personal, custom, digital and social experiences.”
What is a take away for the independent retailer from this information?
- Retailers of all types can increase business substantially by offering non-store shopping experiences – whether that is ordering online and having it shipped or “shopping” online, ordering and picking it up at the store.
- Consumers want convenience and a personalized experience. The general merchandise and department store model with too many different categories of products and little to no on-the-floor sales personnel does not work as well with today’s consumer. Focused merchandise that offers variety within the category, coupled with knowledgeable staff that can connect with the specific needs of each customer allows a shopper to get exactly what they want, spend less time on the decision and the confidence in knowing they made the correct purchase and will not have to return it.
- Stores that offer additional social and hands on, interactive experiences will have the upper hand when it comes to increasing business in 2017.
Looking for more ways to provide unique experiences, compete in the digital world and increase your presence in your own community? Discover 30+ education sessions, a curated trade show floor and countless networking opportunities to gain ideas and insights at ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy. Register to attend the independent toy retailing event of the year, June 25-28 in Philadelphia. Click here for more information.
Sue Warfield is the Director of Member Relations at ASTRA. With more than 30 years of experience in the retail and toy business, Sue offers insight into industry trends and tips and works to connect the retailers, sales representatives, manufacturers and affiliates in the specialty toy retailing arena. Contact Sue at email@example.com.