Smart Buying

Deal Hunters May Be Disappointed This Holiday Season

Shoppers will find only modest discounts this holiday season.

Frank Badillo is a senior economist with consulting firm Kantar Retail.

What’s the outlook for holiday sales? Black Friday and Cyber Monday are more important this year for price-sensitive consumers, but people could be hard-pressed to find the same great deals they found last year. We expect weaker spending for the holidays overall because of the turmoil in the stock market and economic uncertainty. Holiday sales will likely increase at only half of last year’s 5.5% growth rate.

What types of deals can shoppers expect? Retailers could start holiday promotions by early November. You’ll see more deals offering a certain percentage or dollar amount off a total purchase -- such as $10 off if you spend $25 or $50 -- rather than x% off a particular item. Higher commodity costs for retailers are limiting their ability to cut prices. Offering a dollar amount off a total purchase allows retailers to preserve price increases for specific items while offering savings to the consumer. Shoppers should also be on the lookout for deterioration in the quality of clothing -- whether it’s thinner fabric or fewer accessories -- as retailers try to maintain profits.

What are the best ways to shop this year? Savvy shoppers will find better deals online. Shopping online gives consumers the information and tools they need to compare prices. Expect lots of free shipping, too. We’ll see more retailers come up with new tools to offer value. A new app from Lowe’s is a good example; besides allowing you to shop online, it lets users in the store scan items on the shelves to get more product information or watch demos. Getting on retailers’ e-mail lists will alert you to deals. You can also find deals on stores’ Twitter feeds and Facebook pages.

Where will consumers find the best buys? Whether it’s Walmart, Target or the dollar stores, mass-value retailers will offer the best deals. Their mid- to low-income shoppers are looking for bargains more than ever in this economic environment, and competitive pressures are high. You’ll find attractive prices on PCs and tablet computers, as well as toys -- particularly video games and consoles. For apparel, though, take a look at upscale department stores, such as Saks. If wealthier shoppers pull back due to the fall-off in the stock market, those stores may offer deals.

Most Popular

Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
The Berkshire Hathaway Portfolio: All 41 Warren Buffett Stocks Ranked
stocks

The Berkshire Hathaway Portfolio: All 41 Warren Buffett Stocks Ranked

The Berkshire Hathaway portfolio is a diverse set of blue chips, and increasingly, lesser-known growth bets. Here's a look at every stock picked by Wa…
November 16, 2021
The Case Against Owning All Dividend-Paying Stocks in Retirement
investing

The Case Against Owning All Dividend-Paying Stocks in Retirement

Income investors are often all about dividends, but that may not be a smart strategy for retirees. Here’s why, and what investment model they should c…
November 8, 2021

Recommended

Best Black Friday Deals at Costco
Costco

Best Black Friday Deals at Costco

The venerated warehouse chain unleashes holiday bargains in hopes you’ll also snap up Costco’s Kirkland Signature house-brand line of goods as well.
November 23, 2021
Shop for a New Wireless Plan and Save Big
Smart Buying

Shop for a New Wireless Plan and Save Big

Competition is fierce, and carriers are dangling free phones and streaming subscriptions.
November 23, 2021
28 Great Black Friday Deals and Doorbusters for 2021
Smart Buying

28 Great Black Friday Deals and Doorbusters for 2021

We’ve rounded up dozens of bargains from top retailers including Amazon, Costco and Walmart, but you’ll need to act fast; many of the more popular ite…
November 17, 2021
61 Stores That Won’t Be Open on Thanksgiving Day 2021
Smart Buying

61 Stores That Won’t Be Open on Thanksgiving Day 2021

Is Target open on Thanksgiving? Is Walmart open on Thanksgiving? Is Costco open on Thanksgiving? What about Best Buy and others? We’re tracking dozens…
November 8, 2021