Retailers Say CE Is Tops This Season

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Chicago - A survey of chief marketing officers (CMOs) at 100 leading U.S. retailers points to CE as the holiday season's best-selling category.

According to the poll, conducted in September and October by business consultancy BDO USA, 58 percent of CMOs believe CE will be the strongest performing category this season, followed by toys at 16 percent. What's more, CE was cited as this as the seasonal favorite by 83 percent of CMOs at the 100 largest retail companies surveyed.

But the executives' positive outlook for CE is tempered by soft consumer confidence and lingering unemployment. Only 41 percent of respondents expect an increase in total sales this season, down from 52 percent last year, and most are projecting only a modest 2.9 percent gain. More than half (54 percent) are also forecasting flat comp-store sales, and just 37 percent expect an increase in holiday comps.

However, CMOs at the top 100 largest retailers included in the survey are more optimistic, with 67 percent expecting an increase in overall holiday sales.

Retailers also fear another year of excessive discounting and markdowns to clear inventory. While 23 percent said they have increased inventory purchases for the holidays, the vast majority (65 percent) said their inventory purchases have stayed about the same compared to 2010.

"With a weak jobs outlook and the economy still in flux, most retailers are not expecting big sales increases this holiday season," said Doug Hart, partner in the Retail and Consumer Products Practice at BDO USA.


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