Despite the consistently depressing news about the state of the economy as a whole, the National Retail Federation (NRF) is still predicting a 2.8-percent increase in holiday retail sales in 2011, thanks in large part to the influence of affluent shoppers.
The increase, however, is smaller than the 5.2-percent gain seen in 2010. Last year's holiday season also saw a greater lift in the number of visits to online retail sites than in sales, meaning that many users were visiting these retailers just to research product and store information.
These predictions from the NRF come from studying the data garnered from the Retail 500 companies during the 2010 holiday season. During the week of Thanksgiving and Black Friday last year, visits to these sites spiked 8 percent. The week of Cyber Monday saw an increase of 11 percent.
However, consumer feelings on the current economic climate are more negative now than they have been in the last two years, which obviously worries retailers.
Things are Looking Up
Never fear, though, because the NRF is reporting that "traffic to online retailers has grown with visits up 10 percent year-over-year for the week ending October 23, 2011."
This is a considerable amount of growth at any time, but it is especially promising with the holiday season right around the corner. What is important to note is that 28 percent of this traffic is made up of the four most affluent "Mosaic Groups" over-indexed against the population.
These groups are the Power Elite (household incomes of $125K+), Flourishing Families ($75K-$250K), Booming with Confidence ($75K+) and Suburban Style ($75K-$175K). Increased interest in online shopping by this more prosperous segment of the consumer population could likely be the driving force behind another lift in online sales during the 2011 holiday season and, as such, should be targeted appropriately by Internet marketers and retailers.