Consumer sales for this holiday season are poised to surpass expectations.
The National Retail Federation, world’s largest retail trade association, revised its holiday forecast upward, expecting holiday sales to rise 3.8 percent this year to a record $469.1 billion. This is lower than last year’s 5.2 percent increase.
“After strong sales reports in October and November, along with a successful Black Friday weekend, retailers are cautiously optimistic that this season will turn out better than initially expected, bringing added stability to our recovering economy at a time when America needs it most,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a press release.
“However, a number of factors, including the debt crisis in Europe and continued political wrangling in Washington, could impact consumer spending this holiday season and into 2012.”
There is a question as to whether African American-owned businesses are benefiting from the upsurge in holiday spending.
When the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Association of Market Developers hosted its 10th annual “Buy Black” event on Dec. 3 at the First District Plaza, shoppers did not turn out in droves. The event showcased a variety of vendors whose products ranged from clothing to jewelry and educational products.
“The downside to me is that I don’t think there was enough consumer support,” said NAMD Chairman Norm Bond.
“The room really should have been looking like Wal-Mart, where when they open up the door and folks are storming in. It wasn’t that kind of experience. People came throughout the day and certainly supported the businesses. I wouldn’t describe it as throngs of people coming in.”
With that in mind, NAMD is developing strategies to drive more shoppers to next year’s event and encourage consumers to continually support Black-owned businesses.
“We want to promote buying Black all year long so that it is not just something that we talk about when Black Friday is coming up or in February because it’s Black History Month,” Bond says.
Maggie Anderson, co-founder of The Empowerment Experience, headlined the NAMD event. Anderson has been traveling around the country to share her family’s experience of committing to support Black-owned businesses for one year.
Anderson’s experience is chronicled in her new book titled “Our Black Year: A Tale of Buying Black in America’s Racially Divided Economy” which will be available in February.
“Today the nearly 1 trillion dollars of buying power in Black wallets flows right out of African-American neighborhoods. Economists call this phenomenon ‘leakage’ and it creates unemployment, underfunded school systems, poverty, and a lack of communal pride,” Anderson stated.
The focus on encouraging consumers to support Black-owned businesses comes as African-American buying power is projected to grow. The “State of African American Consumer Report” released by Nielsen and the National Newspaper Publishers Association indicates that African American buying power will reach $1.1 trillion by 2015.
The report, the first of annual installments in a three-year alliance between Nielsen and the NNPA, highlights the buying and media habits and consumer trends of African Americans.