Former Sears Canada chairman and CEO Mark Cohen, currently a professor at Columbia Business School, has released a set of predictions for the retail industry this holiday season:

  • Who will be the winners this holiday season? Which retailers will struggle? "Retailers whose performance going in to this holiday season has been consistent and positive are likely to be winners assuming they don't mismanage the next 4–6 weeks. Conversely, retailers whose performance through Q3 has been problematic, such as Walmart and Kohl's, could very well struggle."
  • Electronics a big winner: "Best Buy is likely to show a big sales increase because of the strength of their efforts this year against a very weak showing in 2012 and the overall strength of electronics at the moment. I think electronics is again the big winner this holiday. Tablets, phones, games, and peripherals are hot."
  • Outlook rosy for auto makers: "The automotive industry, already on a tear, will likely have a great holiday season. Think of how many Christmas stockings go empty to fund the purchase or lease of a new car? Interesting, I don't think I've ever seen as much Black Friday marketing from the automobile makers than this year."
  • A difficult season for retailers: "2–3 percent top-line growth with generally unfavorable gross margins. At the end of the day, retailers must sell virtually all of their season, fashionable and soon-to-be-obsolete inventory, at whatever price the consumer will pay and that price already looks untenable with respect to many retailers' P&L."
  • Post-Black Friday fatigue: "The widespread early promotional breaks pre-Thanksgiving, coupled with the unusually short Holiday selling calendar will mean that the pre-anticipation consumer behavior, and Black Friday Weekend transaction fatigue will possibly hurt overall retail sales performance."

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