By Faith Hope Consolo, chairman, Retail Leasing and Sales Division, Douglas Elliman
Take a deep breath. The December Federal Reserve Board Beige Book Report indicated that 2015 would most likely end on a high note in all 12 districts and that the economy was stable nationwide.
Despite geopolitical events throughout the year, climate change warming our holidays and any number of challenges, the markets kept moving up at a slow, but steady pace.
In New York, retailers reported slow-moving results for October and early November. But later on in the month, other sources showed consumer spending in excess of $20.45 billion throughout the Thanksgiving weekend.
The Beige Book’s December report also announced slower seasonal sales, partially attributed to unseasonably warm temperatures. Some of the early holiday shopping was affected by the spring-like weather.
Fortunately, a few weeks later, consumers began shopping again, including a sizeable portion online.
Although in-store sales fell by 4.7 percent during the five-day Thanksgiving weekend, online sales were significantly higher. Approximately 36.1 percent of the Black Friday sales were placed via smartphones and tablets, up from 30.3 percent the year before.
Several surveys indicated an estimated 121 million shoppers planned to shop online. The data from Cyber Monday showed that revenues rose 16 percent this year to more than $3 billion in that one day.
The five-day Thanksgiving period wowed with over $1l billion in online sales alone, exceeding the original predictions of $10.85 billion by 2.4 percent.
Amazon was one of the biggest online winners, with its Cyber Monday sales increasing by 24.1 percent. Overall, the Thanksgiving holiday period was strong with more than 151 million Americans either shopping in stores or online, according to the National Retail Federation, which had initially predicted 136 million shoppers. So the five-day shopping period was better than expected.
Hanukkah came early in December, yet too late to be incorporated in this last Beige Book Report for the year. But there will be more data to review after the New Year to see how we fared during Christmas and general holiday shopping, overall.
So if slow and steady is the economic description the last few months of 2015, I’m confident that the next report will offer an optimistic summation of an economy that reflects reliably consistent growth.
Happy Holidays and Happy Shopping.