With retail associations predicting an upswing in holiday spending this year and an extra shopping weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the retail forecast is looking merry and bright.
In fact, the National Retail Foundation predicts that holiday retail sales will increase by 3.6 to 4 percent this year as compared to last year.
“With employment and incomes increasing, consumers are more confident this year and that is reflected in their buying plans for the holidays,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.
Though the outlook is positive, retailers still face some challenges. As consumers spend more and more money online, brick-and-mortar shops are trying to get creative with special deals and holiday events to lure customers into the door. And, as usual, small businesses nationwide are trying to set themselves apart from the Black Friday tradition of hitting the mall.
In areas where the job market is tight and real estate prices are high—like Denver, Boston and Silicon Valley—it can be tough to hire seasonal staff. On the positive side, new technology for tracking shoppers is creating opportunity for stores to better market themselves and for startup tech firms to grow.
Here's a look at how businesses around the U.S. are dealing with this year's trends and challenges in holiday retail.
- Hailstorm shutdown, holiday season put Colorado Mills retailers in hiring crunch
- Boston's tight labor market, sky-high real estate prices squeeze seasonal hiring
- Bay Area retailers face new holiday hiring challenges
Marketing and foot traffic
- Jax Beach holiday festival rallies businesses, retailers
- Philly-area malls emphasize experience to lure shoppers
- Coral Gables’ Miracle Mile in midst of makeover during holidays
- Grocers, food makers want a piece of the holiday shopping pie
- How will new Ikea impact holiday shopping around Indianapolis?
- Texas retailers look to create unique shopping experience during holidays
- Retailers poised for carefully spent green on Black Friday
Technology—for better or worse
- Atlanta startups corralling shopper intel through data
- Emerging tech seen at forefront of holiday spending
- Cyber security experts offer tips for retailers this holiday season
- Raleigh's quest to get people offline, into stores for holiday shopping
Black Friday alternatives
- Phoenix's small retailers fight for slice of holiday pie
- ‘Shop local’ the only mantra this season in Nevada community
- Nashville holiday shoppers look local to fill their stockings
- REI wants everyone to #OptOutside again
- Good things do come in Little Boxes
- Alexandria small businesses put the merry in Christmas shopping
- Minnesota small businesses go big for the holidays
- Forget the mall. Holiday shoppers fill convention center seeking handmade gifts