Forecasters Predict Fruitful Holiday Shopping Season

By: Michael Gorsegner
By: Michael Gorsegner

November 25, 2005

People around Charlottesville and across the country lined up today to begin the holiday shopping season. While many people are beginning to deck the halls, retailers are hoping to start seeing the bucks.

The holiday shopping period is a five-week stretch that keeps the business for retailers afloat for the year. Today the money-making and the madness began with a bang.

"I've never seen the parking lot so full. I mean it's been a little crazy," said Shane Borrelli, of Target.

Black Friday brought crowds and lines to retailers like Target and WalMart, but will those kinds of robust crowds last?

"You've got people just incredibly unsettled about what their life will look like next year and that's having an impact," said analyst Wendy Liebman.

Rising gas prices initially scared many retail forecasters. But as prices at the pump dropped, the National Retail Federation recently revised its estimates, calling for a six percent increase in sales over last year.

"Last month, prices at the pump have gone down a penny a day. That penny a day is not going into the gas tank and can be spent in the stores," said Vice President Rick Gallagher.

The holiday season is responsible for approximately 20 percent of retailers yearly bottom line. With that in mind, marketing to the correct buyers is a must.

"Women are the primary shoppers. Retail might be the only industry that routinely refers to its major customer as 'she,'" Gallagher said.

With the season heating up and a strong economic forecast, Shane Borrelli can expect more days like today.

"It's been crazy and a lot of fun, kind of," he said.

All of these estimates are just that--estimates. The National Sales Federation will release the weekend's findings after this entire weekend comes to a close on Sunday.

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