Christmas falling on a Wednesday amid a record-short holiday shopping season could wreak havoc on some retailers
- The holiday calendar seems to be stacked against retailers this year.
- Christmas falls on a Wednesday, which could sap momentum from Super Saturday. And there are just 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is about a week shorter than the same period last year.
- "It's going to be a lackluster holiday," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor for The NPD Group.
- An NPD survey also shows that consumers are divided on spending plans. Lower-income shoppers said they are planning to spend more this holiday season, while higher-income shoppers said they are planning to spend less, Cohen said.
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Retailers are facing a host of challenges that could threaten to dampen sales growth this holiday season.
Among the most serious of those challenges are tensions over the US trade war with China and concerns about a looming recession.
Also of concern is the holiday calendar, with Christmas this year falling on a Wednesday, says Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor for The NPD Group.
When the holiday falls in the middle of the week, "it takes the pressure of Super Saturday away," Cohen told Business Insider. Super Saturday, which is the Saturday before Christmas Day, is typically one of the biggest shopping days of the holiday season.
"Everybody sits there and says, 'Oh, I got a couple more days. I don't have to rush and fight the crowds,'" Cohen said. "That keeps people from fighting the frenzy, and the frenzy feeds the beast."
The "frenzy" also leads to higher spending, he said.
Shoppers will "see a big crowd over by the sweater table. So they grab a couple of sweaters, even if they didn't have any intention" of buying them, he said. "That is what feeds a lot of the growth. And when [Christmas] is on Wednesday or Thursday, it doesn't happen."
The shopping season is one week shorter this year
Retailers are also facing a shortened shopping season. There are just 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is about a week shorter than the same period last year.
More than half of retailers plan to offer deeper discounts this year to better compete during the shortened season, according to a RetailMeNot survey. This is great news for shoppers, but will chip away at retailers' profits.
Moreover, a recent NPD survey showed that shoppers are divided on everything from the strength of the economy to their gift-spending plans.
For example, younger and lower-income shoppers said they are planning to spend more this holiday season, while higher-income shoppers said they are planning to spend less, Cohen said, citing the NPD survey.
The survey also found that nearly half of shoppers would rather spend money on experiences over gifts this year.
"It's going to be a lackluster holiday," Cohen said.
Others have predicted relatively strong growth in consumer spending this holiday season, however.
"The US economy is continuing to grow and consumer spending is still the primary engine behind that growth," National Retail Federation CEO Matthew Shay said in a release.