ugg website uk Louis area gear up for big weekend as shoppers face holiday crunch
The chocolate elves at Kakao have been moving up to warp speed in the last few weeks, exponentially ramping up production of the small St. Louis companys hallmark sea salt caramels to about 1,000 a day.
And this weekend, the companys busiest of the year, it will have its biggest staff ever on hand: 21 employees between the two stores, many of whom will be working overtime to crank out more chocolate. The snow last weekend and some cold days earlier this month seem to have delayed holiday shopping a little bit, said owner Brian Pelletier.
And the shorter time between Thanksgiving and Christmas has caught some people unaware, he said, referring to the shortest holiday shopping season in a decade, with six fewer days than last year. They are realizing that Christmas is just next week.
So while his and other stores around the St. Louis region are usually busy this week, many say they have noticed its been even busier than they expected.
Customers are telling us they are behind schedule on buying gifts, so we do expect a big push this weekend, said Mark Francis, general manager of the JCPenney store at West County Center.
Yes, the holiday shopping crunch is on. The much talked about shorter calendar, the forecasts for so so holiday sales, and an extra promotion happy environment thanks to retailers anxiety about the season will all culminate this weekend.
The Saturday and Sunday before Christmas are typically among the top shopping days of the year particularly so for Saturday, typically the second biggest shopping day after Black Friday. Hence its often used moniker: Super Saturday.
Shopping malls are expected to be jampacked this weekend, and many stores have extended their hours in the final countdown to Christmas. Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve.
In addition to the extended hours, stores are dangling price matching guarantees, free shipping deals, and, of course, extra discounts and sales in order to get consumers to splurge.
As expected, in store traffic as a whole has been down this holiday season as more people forgo brick and mortar stores in favor of shopping online.
The firm ShopperTrak said that in store traffic was down 20 percent last week compared to last year and sales were down nearly 1 percent that week, hurt by bad weather last weekend.
According to a survey for the National Retail Federation, nearly half of shoppers said they planned to do the remainder of their holiday shopping online, the highest percentage in the surveys 11 year history. The trade group said shoppers are embracing the ease and convenience of shopping online especially at a time of year when their schedules are quite busy.
But with many online retailers standard delivery deadlines for Christmas delivery coming and going this week, last minute shoppers will either have to pay more for rush delivery or hit the stores to finish up their shopping.
And there appear to be a lot of procrastinators out there. According to a Consumer Reports poll, about 31 percent of Americans hadnt started their shopping as of early December.
It always comes down to the wire, said Michael Niemira, chief economist for the International Council of Shopping Centers. But overall, were optimistic that the sales will come in pretty much as expected, and maybe a bit stronger in some categories.
But procrastinators waiting to shop this weekend may have to grapple with more inclement weather that could put a wrinkle in their plans.
On Saturday, the St. Louis area is expected to see freezing rain that is part of a band that stretches from Kansas City to Maine.
While categories such as apparel have been showing some weakness, sales nonetheless seem to be on track with the councils forecast for a 3.4 percent increase in holiday sales, Niemira said.
Brian Yarbrough, retail analyst for Edward Jones in Des Peres, also is feeling good about holiday retail sales hitting his firms forecast for a 2.8 percent uptick. But in order to get there, retailers have been running deeper and longer promotions than previous years, he said.
Its gotten more promotional than we expected, he said. Ive heard several retailers say 40 percent off is the new 20 percent because consumers are so value focused.
But its hard to know how thats affecting retailers bottom lines, because they often mark up items to begin with and know they will sell it at a discounted price, Yarbrough added. For example, the clothing store Express usually only discounts up to 40 percent before Christmas, but this year it has been offered 50 percent off at times, she said.
People have learned they dont have to pay full price, she said. Retailers are accommodating those changing shopping behaviors.
As for the hottest holiday gifts, tablets and electronics continue to be popular this year. The Microsoft Surface 2 has sold out of many places. The Beats by Dr. Dre headphones have also made a splash.
Usually theres some kind of apparel trend that seems to be red hot, Edward Jones Yarbrough said. Colored denim, North Face fleece and Ugg boots have been some examples in previous years. But it doesnt feel like theres much this year.