The Election Fallout Fallacy



Could shoppers’ post-election hangover end up putting a lump of coal in retailers’ stocking this holiday season? While recent data indicates this may be the case, there is also compelling evidence that retailers will emerge relatively unscathed by politics.

More than 25 percent of consumers said that the election would impact their spending plans for the holidays this year, according to a poll conducted by the National Retail Federation (NRF). In fact, the report says that the average shopper plans to spend less than last year

I guess this should come as no surprise; prevailing wisdom tells us that consumer spending is often depressed after particularly contentious national elections. Still, some studies contend that this trend has no grounding in actual post-election spending data, and there is research that appears to back up this opposing argument.

The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker consumer survey, for example, reports that the average shopper intends on spending eight percent more this holiday season than last. Meanwhile, PwC—an international accounting/consulting firm that deals in retail and consumer analytics—reports that overall holiday retail sales will increase 10 percent. Even NRF, despite the results of its election-related poll, is expecting retail sales to increase during November and December—albeit by a much more modest 3.6 percent.

Given reports like these, there is much reason for pet store owners and operators to be optimistic that holiday shoppers will ultimately prove unfettered by fallout from Election Day. However, that does not mean retailers don’t face some serious challenges. At the top of that list is competition from online outlets.

Every holiday spending forecast is reporting that a record number of consumers will turn to the internet for their holiday purchases. The prevalence of this trend among Millennial consumers, in particular, could be problematic for pet stores this holiday season, considering that PwC’s study indicates this demographic is expected to spend 30 percent more than the average pet owner on gifts for their companion animals.

This makes it all the more important for brick-and-mortar retailers to give shoppers a compelling reason to unplug and come into the store. That means not only providing a great in-store experience—which should be a given—but also reaching consumers on internet retailers’ own turf with a well-designed web presence. After all, more people aren’t just shopping online; they’re also researching products and retailers, undecided about where they will ultimately make their purchase.

Will what they find on your website encourage them to come in? 


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