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Survey: CFOs predict 5.9% increase in 2012 online sales


Chicago -- Survey results released Tuesday by BDO USA revealed that 51% of retail finance chiefs foresee a 5.9% increase in online sales for full-year 2012.

That compares to 4.1% and 4.5% expected increases in same-store sales and total sales, respectively.

The BDO Retail Compass Survey of CFOs, which examined the opinions of 100 CFOs at leading retailers located throughout the country, found that CFO sentiments were conservative compared to last year, when the respondents predicted 11.9% online sales growth.

The group said it expects an increase of 4.6% in holiday-specific online sales.

The looming presidential election may be tempering expectations for a strong holiday season, suggested BDO USA. With the most important shopping period of the year coming on the heels of November’s election, retailers will be monitoring the race closely, as CFOs believe the election and unemployment are the two issues that will have the greatest impact on consumer confidence. In addition, the vast majority (78%) of CFOs say that they are concerned about potential tax reforms as a result of the election.

“Retailers are still seeing a great deal of top-line growth in e-commerce, and that is leading to optimistic expectations for the holidays,” said Stephen Wyss, partner in the Retail and Consumer Products Practice at BDO USA. “It’s a solid outlook, but you can bet that every online sales offer, every promotion consideration, and every hiring decision this holiday season will be made with careful consideration of the impact of the presidential election on consumer confidence levels and the general state of the economy.”

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • 77% of CFOs report that they have maintained their investment in mobile commerce for the 2012 holiday season. Another 19% of retailers will increase their mobile investment this year to capitalize on or catch up to the growth in mobile commerce.

  • Showrooming isn’t of monumental concern, as 88% of CFOs say they do NOT view showrooming as a threat to their business. However, to be on the safe side, 25% of CFOs say they are improving their customer service model, and another 25% expanded options for in-store pickups and returns as part of a strategy to countermand showrooming. Other methods include product exclusivity (17%) and price matching with online retailers (17%).

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