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CIT Survey: Mid-Market Retail Execs Note Mixed Sentiment for Holiday Season

November 22, 2013, 07:48 AM
Filed Under: Retail

Retailers may be making their (inventory) lists and checking them twice this holiday season. A new retail outlook survey from CIT Group Inc., a leading provider of financing and advisory services to small businesses and middle market companies, conducted by Forbes Insights, finds that while 45% of middle market retail executives believe an economic recovery is already here or is well underway, 55% don’t expect a recovery to materialize until later, with almost 25% saying they don’t expect to see a recovery until 2015.

Looking toward this holiday season, one in three retailers expect minimal growth rates of between one and five percent, while 12% say they expect to see a decrease in sales over the holidays. An outlier to this sentiment: one in four retailers expect to see growth between six and ten percent this holiday season.

“For many middle market retail executives, the forecast for the coming holiday season and beyond is a wintry mix,” said Burt Feinberg, President, CIT Corporate Finance, Commercial & Industrial. “More than 60 percent say that high unemployment will continue to hurt sales, and 53 percent say overall economic uncertainty is having a dampening effect. Despite this, high-end luxury goods continue to sell well, while other consumers are choosing to trade down on their purchases.”

Interestingly, while 70% report that their own financial condition is healthy, 25% say they are reducing the schedules of existing employees to 30 hours or less, and 27% report that online and mobile business models are disrupting their business.

In addition, 61% say they see an uneven recovery developing that seems to be favoring wealthier consumers more than middle- and lower-income customers. In fact, while 50% of retailers say they are seeing increased demand for luxury goods among affluent shoppers, 45% say they are seeing middle class shoppers shift their preference from premium to lower-priced products.

Complimentary copies of the full report can be downloaded here.

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