2017 Holiday Sales, Commentary and Operational Influence

by Bill McCarthy on 10-25-17

Undeniably, it is critical for retailers to examine 2017 holiday sales projections in conjunction with historical and anticipated traffic data. At ShopperTrak, we slice and dice retail traffic trends down to the store level, in order to produce insights that help brick-and-mortar retailers optimize operations and improve store performance, and while  our busiest holiday shopping days prediction is major piece of a grander seasonal puzzle, another major piece includes estimated 2017 holiday sales.

In order to help retailers capitalize on traffic data, we’ve compiled an easily accessible review of critical 2017 holiday sales forecasts from trusted sources. With this in mind, here’s are the highlights from recent reports that can help retailers shape their expectations and prepare financially:

Consumers are feeling good about 2017 holiday sales

  • According to a University of Michigan survey, U.S. consumer sentiment surged to a 13-year high as Americans’ perceptions of the economy and finances recovered following several major hurricanes. What does this mean? Shoppers shouldn’t be shy about filling their carts.

Disposable income is on the rise

  • According to a statement from Deloitte’s senior U.S. economist, Daniel Bachman, disposable personal income is expected to increase 3.8 percent to 4.2 percent, which is up from 2 percent in 2016.

Imports set a second all-time monthly record high

  • Imports are continuing at unusually high levels in October, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates. It’s important to note that while cargo volume does not correlate directly to sales – that’s because the value of the cargo is not assessed, rather the number of containers is counted – it does act as a barometer of retailers’ expectations.

Additionally, despite mixed commentary, the stock market is performing well. The jobless rate is at its lowest level since 2001. And gas prices, which recently increased, still remain well below rates from 2013 and 2014 – a factor that could positively influence low-income shoppers.

These factors are more clear-cut than strictly 2017 holiday sales predictions, which can be nuanced (especially consumer-based surveys); however, it’s worth highlighting a few retail sales predictions from industry thought leaders. These include:

2017 holiday sales chart


Overall, with signs of a positive holiday season this year, retailers have reason to feel enthusiastic about spending prospects.

Importantly, it’s critical to note that retailers shouldn’t fear the death of retail narrative! This is particularly relevant this holiday season. As long purchases are taking place on one of a retailers’ many channels, be it via mobile app, website, or in store, it is contributing to the bottom line. Retailers cannot succeed on in-store 2017 holiday sales alone. And so, those retailers who manage to successfully align their operations – via ensuring that staff is present and knowledgeable, merchandise is in stock, BOPIS items are ready at the counter, promotions are clear and understandable – will succeed this holiday season.

Get more tips for how to best optimize in-store operations during the holiday season from ShopperTrak’s 6 Steps for Holdiay Prep infographic. 

Read more posts by Bill McCarthy

Bill McCarthy is the General Manager of the Americas, in which he oversees regional efforts pertaining to the Traffic Insights business unit.