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Target, Walmart rejoice — Holiday spending is expected to rise nearly 5% this year

Scott Saloway

So much for a holiday season recession among America’s consumers.

The International Council of Shopping Centers is predicting holiday spending will climb 4.9% year-over-year, to $832.3 billion, with the average American adult spending $683 on holiday-related items.

“You’re going to see shopping malls and shopping centers in general, as well as online shopping being strong this holiday season,” Tom McGee, the CEO of the International Council of Shopping Centers, told Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade. “You still have strong consumer sentiment, obviously a very strong job market and a relatively strong economy.”

Retailers like Target (TGT) are ramping up their seasonal hiring, with that company alone planning to add 125,000 temporary workers to get through the holidays. Target is also hiring 8,000 additional workers to help process and fulfill online orders.

FILE - In this July 10, 2019, file photo shoppers visit the downtown Target Store in Minneapolis.  (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)
FILE - In this July 10, 2019, file photo shoppers visit the downtown Target Store in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

McGee says that shift in online ordering with instant fulfillment is powerful for stores that are doing it right.

“That’s a great thing for retailers,” he told Alexis Christoforous and Brian Sozzi. “When that customer comes into their store, almost always, we spend more.”

But he cautions that that the consumer is changing. While baby boomers typically sought out department stores like Macy’s (M), JCPenney (JCP) or Nordstrom (JWN) for their shopping needs, younger generations want to buy online and pick up in store.

That’s why you see many shopping malls becoming food and entertainment destinations, with less focus on anchor stores and more on specialty retailers, McGee said.

It’s just the latest way retailers are trying to connect with shoppers and reinvent themselves for younger consumers looking for speed, connection, and a great deal.

“You have to have a great presence online, you have to have a great presence in your store,” he said. “I really believe the retailers that are going to win in the future are those that are going to invest in their store network and make the experience consistent across the digital and physical channel.”

But will there be a recession at the shopping mall?

“Not over the holiday season,” McGee said.

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