NEW YORK — The holiday shopping season is expected to begin early this year, and retailers will focus on a value message, according to a forecast by Citigroup here on Friday.
Overall, retail sales are expected to rise by 0% to 1% compared with year-ago results.
Deborah Weinswig, a Citigroup analyst who follows discount and broadline retailers, said aggressive marketing, pent-up demand, updated fashion and compelling price points would trigger early shopping this year. She projected gains of up to 2% at retailers she follows, led by discounters. Target seems especially well-positioned, she said, with toys priced within about 1% of Wal-Mart.
Steven Wieting, an economist at Citigroup, cautioned that sharply rising oil futures could put a damper on retail spending this season, with gas prices expected to rise about 10% during November. Weinsig also cautioned that an early start to the season could result in a relatively weak December for retail sales.
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