Retail roundup: 88 hours of toy shopping, luxury spending, holiday outlook brightens and retail real estate salaries

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-- With little more than a week left before Christmas, retailers are making their final push to entice last-minute shoppers. The last 10 days of the season traditionally bring out huge crowds — retailers see about one-third of their holiday sales during the period — and this year is no exception. Next week, Toys R Us will open stores for 88 hours in a row; 14 Macy’s stores will be open for 83 consecutive hours.

-- After snapping shut their designer wallets during the recession, luxury shoppers are making a big comeback. Gone are the drastic cost-cutting measures by high-end retailers, who are now reporting renewed fervor for handbags, shoes, jewelry and other indulgences at full price.

U.S. retail sales overall are expected to rise about 3.5% this year, but the trend is even stronger at the high end, with a projected 7% jump over 2009. That’s an encouraging sign for the overall economy because affluent shoppers wield outsized spending power. The richest 20% of households account for nearly 40% of total consumer spending in the U.S., said Michael Niemira, chief economist at the International Council of Shopping Centers.

-- This week the National Retail Federation raised its holiday season sales forecast to a 3.3% increase over last year, up from 2.3%, based on stronger-than-expected November sales, stock market gains and savings built up during the recession.


‘Consumers have not been suffering from a lack of spending power, they’ve just been missing the confidence to use it,’ said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist of the retail trade group. ‘With noticeable improvement in key economic indicators, combined with great deals on merchandise, consumers have certainly shown they shouldn’t be counted out this holiday season.’

-- Good news if you work in retail real estate. According to a survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers, the median retail real estate salary increase for 2010 is trending up between 2.1% and 3.0% over last year. The survey was based on compensation trends and policies for a sample of 59 companies and 68 positions ranging from executive to junior-level.

‘With overall U.S. industry wages growing by about 1.5% this year, according to U.S. Labor Department statistics, it is encouraging to see that the retail real estate industry is experiencing a slightly better pace of salary gain,’ said Michael P. Niemira, chief economist and director of research for ICSC. ‘Yet, as the real estate sector is lagging -- typically and cyclically -- the nascent recovery, the survey also found that approximately a quarter of retail real estate job positions were likely to see little or no change in salaries in 2010.’

-- Andrea Chang