Super Saturday: Here’s what retailers should expect

Marianne Wilson
Marianne Wilson profile picture

Super Saturday, Dec. 19, is poised to set an all-time daily record.

That’s according to Customer Growth Partners, which forecasts that Super Saturday sales will reach $36.1 billion, up 5.5% year-over-year. The total will surpass Super Saturday in 2019, at $34.4 billion, and 2018, at $31.9 billion.  

CPG noted that the major snowstorm predicted to hit the Northeast on Dec. 16 and Dec. 17 will have no impact on Super Saturday, as parking lots will be plowed out well before the day dawns.  

The bullish forecast from CPG comes on the heels of sharp November growth and brisk sales the weekend of Dec. 12, noted CGP.  Retail sales for November—the first half of the holiday season—reached a record $358 billion, up 9.1% from the $328 billion for November 2019, according to the latest sales data from the Census Bureau.  

“Despite a sluggish Black Friday, a shadow of its former self, the November spending strength in-store and online—and despite the usual ‘early December lull’ the first ten days of December—defied the COVID headwinds, and set the stage for a record Super Saturday,” said CGP president Craig Johnson. “Digital growth is  driving about 70% of the total growth, but physical stores—particularly big-box retailers such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Target, and Home Depot—are seeing modest footfall growth converted into robust net traffic growth, along with rising average purchases as shoppers consolidate trips in this ‘COVID Christmas’ season.”

Home and hardlines categories—notably electronics, home improvement, sporting goods, etc.—are sizzling, Johnson added, as consumer spending migrates from apparel towards the home and work-from-home lifestyles. 

Here are the highlights of CGP’s analysis as holiday shopping enters its peak week.

-The 9.1% pace of November, even with some demand pull-forward, suggests that CGP’s early 5.8% forecast  (issued in October) may well reach or surpass actual growth of 7% for the full Nov.-Dec. holiday season. 

-Hardlines winners include electronics, appliances, furniture, outdoor living, sports gear and home improvement.

-Lagging categories include apparel and accessories stores—except footwear—and department stores.

-Conversion rates (the percentage of customers entering a store that buy something) have risen by three to six points, mitigating much of the impacts of often soft raw traffic. 

-Promotions at apparel stores are widespread and very similar to 2019, pressuring gross margins, while hardlines are mostly selling at full price.  

“Looking to 2021 and beyond, the key issue is how sustainable the robust growth will be going forward, given the remarkable strength of consumer fundamentals—and the uncertain impacts of COVID before the vaccines are widely available, particularly on employment growth,” Johnson said. “If employment growth lags, retail sales may slow to about 3.5%; but if employment picks up again, we may well see solid 4.5% to 5% growth again.”