Does a Shorter Holiday Season Mean Less Spending?

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Dec. 23 (Bloomberg) –- The Cambridge Group CEO Steve Carlotti, Canaccord Genuity Retail Analyst Laura Champine and Pension Partners Chief Investment Strategist Michael Gayed discuss the shortest shopping season in a decade and if it means less spending for consumers with Trish Regan and Adam Johnson on Bloomberg Television’s “Street Smart.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Spending or not?

Do people do the same amount of shopping?

If so, what are they doing in the next two days?

I think people do the same amount of shopping.

At the end of the day, johnny wants his gifts.

You will do the same amount of shopping in a shortened season.

I do not think it hurts retailers that the season is shorter.

I think it requires they have to break out more.

I think the same amount of money gets spent.

But where it is spent puts more pressure on retailers to do more earlier.

It seems people do not have as much time to shop.

Maybe they do not do as much.

You can make the argument that santa is always the same size, but i think the consumer is pressed for time, used to shopping late.

We were in a lot of t.j. maxx stores on the west coast last night and saw lots of families shopping to pick up anything they could get for under $50. i think the stocking stuffers will look for the strange this year.

[laughter] does it seem like everyone says the same thing every year?

I'm waiting till the last minute.

On thanksgiving, everyone was looking but not buying.

Is this standard operating procedure?

I think it is.

I think consumers think about what they want.

They have a list they are trying to fill out.

This year, they were looking for good deals out of the gate.

The retail community started early with.

Big deals.

. where are those deals and what are people buying?

Gaming systems.

They do not seem to be buying apparel.

We think people are buying home goods, the typical gift baskets.

We think the big department stores are struggling.

They are also buying gift cards, lots of gift cards.

In other words, getting cash.


Is that a good thing for retailers?

If nothing else, you can get the interest on the money being spent without having to give away a good until that person comes to your store and purchase is something.

And it introduces new shoppers to your store.

And no returns because they are buying what they want.

And not everybody uses the entire gift card, right?

Devils advocate, you get a lot more customers coming in after christmas when everything is on clearance so profits are not as good.

It seems like everything is already on clearance.

Bloomingdale's up to 60% off.

That is abnormal.

A good year to be a consumer.

Is that because inventories were too high and they have to liquidate?

We think that's part of the issue.

Everyday counts when you have a shortened calendar.

If they cannot cop up double digits day-to-day, it is a problem.

Right now we think they have a problem.

Everyone is following everyone.

The first person out of the gate who gets a hot price, everybody feels like they have got to follow.

Match them or do better and discount more.

A race to the bottom as far as pricing.

There is some of that for sure.

What about this nielsen survey?

If you two percent of americans -- 52% of americans describe themselves as only being able to afford the basics.

That is sad and upsetting.

What do you make of the data?

Consumers have cleaned up their balance sheets.

We are seeing traffic down.

A lot of what happens to retail will be determined in the next 48 hours and next week to see how many people come in with gift cards.

48% of america is saying they feel like they can spend freely.

We talk about these problems with income distribution.

I would have expected that number to have been much less.

I would not have anticipated what a percent of america felt they could spend freely.

That is a -- i would not have anticipated 48% of america felt he could spend freely.

That is a good thing.

We're spending more than we make because income is not quite as much.

Consumer confidence is looking good as well.

What does it mean for retail?

I think a lot of what has happened is small ticket purchases have been robbed by big-ticket purchases.

People finally doing remodeling, replacing appliances, buying new cars.

Not a ton of money left over to buy jeans and sweatshirts, but it does not mean consumer spending is unhealthy.

It just means it is moving around.

. that is curious.

People are buying big-ticket items because they had to hold back?

I think it is a bit of capitulation.

I see this in business all the time.

People say it will probably not get a lot better, so i have to get on with life.

If i need a new car, i cannot wait another year.

You look at the fed.

It finally felt it can move to taper.

You have unemployment following -- falling.

Gdp coming in at 4.1%. there is a lot of good stuff out there.

It is a question of whether the average american is feeling it.

We are out of time.

Great to have you here.

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