Purdue retail expert expects holiday spending to rise 4 percent over 2013 levels

IndustriesAssociated Press

Holiday spending this year should rise about 4 percent over 2013 levels, but it won't be all good news for all retailers, a Purdue University expert said.

The growth this year, if it occurs, would be a marked increase over the 2.8 percent sales growth last year over the previous year, Purdue professor of retail management Richard Feinberg said.

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While sales are likely to increase, so are the number of retailers and Internet sites available to consumers, Feinberg said. That will dilute sales growth for many retailers.

Total U.S. holiday spending will be close to $986 billion, Feinberg predicted in a news release issued by Purdue on Monday. He said surveys show that shoppers are likely to spend an average of $650 to $725 on gifts.

Feinberg warned that geopolitical crises and public health concerns such as that over the Ebola virus could lower consumer confidence and increase cautiousness about spending if those stories remain in the news.

Most of the non-luxury, large retailers will appeal to consumers' prime motivation with low prices, he said. That will mean heavy promotions and constant sales.

Late-night and even 24-hour shopping has become so prevalent that many retailers now feel they must be open nearly all of the time to keep up with the competition, Feinberg said.

Black Friday has evolved into Black November, Feinberg said. Retailers no longer wait for the Friday after Thanksgiving to launch huge sales that pack their stores with shoppers. He said 75 percent of consumers say they will shop on Black Friday, either in traditional stores or online.