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How Are 2017 Holiday Sales Faring So Far?

Merry and bright


‘Tis the season – the shopping season! For most retailers, sales in November and December represent about 20 percent of their total sales for the year. While retailers typically tend to see a spike in sales around the holidays, the 2017 holiday season has been especially promising thus far.

The number of in-store and online shoppers is exceeding expectations. According to the most recent Retail Sales Report, including numbers for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, sales rose .08 percent in November, twice the projected forecast of some analysts.

In total, the National Retail Federation (NRF) expects holiday retail sales to increase between 3.6 and 4 percent this holiday season for a total of up to $682 billion. This is a fairly significant jump from the nearly $655 billion consumers spent this time last year.

Black Friday – named for the day retailers began to switch from red ink, showing losses, to black ink, showing gains – used to be the most significant shopping day. While Black Friday is still the biggest day for in-store shopping, big holiday spending now spans over several days. According to the NRF, more than 174 million Americans purchased something either in stores or online over the five-day holiday weekend taking place Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday. That figure certainly beat the 164 million shoppers originally expected this year.

Sales on Cyber Monday, in particular, broke all-time records to become the biggest U.S. online shopping day ever. With a record $6.59 billion spent on Cyber Monday alone, online sales grew 17 percent from last year.

This uptick in spending, plus a longer shopping season this year, spells good news for retailers. There are four weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, giving shoppers even more time to shop and make those holiday purchases.  

We’ll have to wait until January to see the final numbers, but if spending trends over the holidays are a good litmus test for the general state of the economy, I’d say things are looking moderately healthy.

Stephen Stribling is a Financial Advisor with the Global Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley in Denver.

The information contained in this article is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. Any information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice. The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors as the appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor's individual circumstances and objectives.  Investing involves risks and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, or its affiliates. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, LLC, member SIPC.

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Stephen Stribling

Stephen Stribling is a Senior Vice President with The Pelican Bay Group, Global Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley in Denver. He can be reached at 303-572-4889 or toll free at 888-477-3002. Email him at stephen.l.stribling@ms.com or visit his website: http://www.morganstanleyfa.com/stribling/.

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