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The shopping forecast for the 2013 holiday season

The shopping forecast for the 2013 holiday season

Retail sales have been weak but are expected to rise in anticipation of the holidays. According to Bloomberg, purchasing increased from September to October in all industries except the automotive, which fell by 2.2 percent over the previous month. Factors like the two-week government shutdown are blamed with having had a negative impact on sales, although analysts' prospects are cautiously optimistic going forward into seasonal shopping.

Due to the short period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, nearly 45 percent of consumers have already begun purchasing holiday gifts, the Los Angeles Times reported. For many store owners, this meant beginning seasonal advertising efforts well ahead of the usual schedule. Although some went for a subtle approach by increasing advertisements for top-selling items, other companies jumped right into themed marketing, like a Kmart holiday commercial that encouraged consumers to participate in store layaway services now to budget holiday shopping.

With Thanksgiving less than a month away, small-scale shop owners may want to consider boosting in-store advertising and preparation measures as well. Now is an ideal time to do some fall cleaning and invest in supplies and new display fixtures that can help maximize sales. Because holiday shopping brings a higher volume of customers into stores, retailers may want to rethink the layout of their space to improve ease of traffic and prevent congestion. Utilizing standing features that maximize space, such as corner shelving units, can help keep walkways clear, and wall space can be put to work with items like display hooks and racks. Store owners should be sure not to compromise style for efficiency, however. Even highly functional pieces can have character, and retailers should keep their store design and atmosphere in mind when selecting new items, so they can continue to look great throughout the year.