Holiday sales of electronics and appliances in U.S. stores are expected to get an early start this year, with consumers spending a larger-than-usual share in November, according to an analytics-based forecast produced by IBM.
With a 99% proven accuracy, the forecast relies on 19 years of historical data and sophisticated analytics software developed by IBM to analyze both long-term trends and seasonal peaks.
Michael Haydock, Global Business Services partner and IBM Retail Analytics Leader, noted that disposable income, as reported by the U.S. Commerce Department is on the rise along with the household savings rate, which can attribute to a pent-up consumer demand. This increased savings rate will jolt electronics and appliance sales, since these technologies are seen more as a necessity than a luxury.
According to IBM’s forecast, sales of consumer electronics and appliances are predicted to total $10.164 billion this November, representing a 4% increase from November 2009. Consumer electronics is expected to total $8.688 billion with appliances coming in at $1.476 billion.
In December, sales of consumer electronics and appliances are predicted to total $13.800 billion, representing a 4% increase over December 2009. The December 2010 forecast closes with $12.197 billion for consumer electronics and $1.603 billion for appliances.
However, IBM’s analysis of sales changes from month to is most significant because those figures are the strongest predictors of relative strength. The sales momentum going from October into November this year is expected to be stronger than in previous years, while the momentum from November to December is expected to be weaker than in the past.
"The forecast indicates that retailers should be ready for a robust Black Friday and Cyber Monday," Haydock said. "Retailers that staff up and stock up for November and invest in advertising are likely to have a substantial advantage in the marketplace."
Along with more available funds, this more robust spending period can also be attributed to savvy shopping techniques from consumers, including searching for sales through Internet and mobile outlets. According to a survey from IBM Institute for Business Value, mobile device usage in shopping has tripled from 6% last year, to 17% this year, indicating that item research is key for shoppers before they step foot into a store.
“This year, consumers won’t be waiting for Black Friday — they’ll be using their laptops, tablets or smart phones to do some shopping right after the pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving Day,” Haydock said.
Shoppers’ shift to mobile and Internet browsing not only pushes retailers to advertise and attract buyers earlier — it also gives retailers more time to grow and differentiate themselves from their competition with strong branding and a memorable shopping experience.
“The shift to mobile sales, and the emergence of Internet-connected TVs, present a huge opportunity and a challenge to retailers, who require a
sophisticated infrastructure to really take advantage of the myriad of ways shoppers are interfacing with their brands,” Haydock said. “Retailers who deliver a seamless, integrated, multi-channel shopping experience this year will clearly be at an advantage,”
The 2010 forecast is designed by IBM through economic data gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau. The data is derived from a survey of retailers engaged in electronics and appliances as their major categories.
IBM says these establishments are a representative sample and are not inclusive of all industry activity in this category. Products include TVs, cell phones, personal computers and tablet computers, radios and stereos, refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens and other devices.