Cyber Monday will kick off holiday shopping next week following the Thanksgiving Day weekend shopping extravaganza. Economists will focus on initial holiday sales estimates from retailers, which are often viewed as a key indication of the overall health of the U.S. economy and consumers’ financial stability.
Around 140 million holiday shoppers are likely to take advantage of Thanksgiving weekend deals in stores and online, according to the National Retail Federation. Holiday sales are expected to rise 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion in 2014 compared with an increase of 3.1 percent to $592.7 billion a year ago, the NRF said. Online sales are forecast to grow between 8 percent to 11 percent this holiday season to $105 billion, topping $100 billion for the first time ever, according to Shop.org, a division of the NRF.
“It’s shaping up to be a strong holiday season,” said Jesse Tron, spokesperson for the International Council of Shopping Centers trade association. “Although consumer confidence came in a little slower than expected in November, we don’t see that as a particular issue in terms of purchasing.”
The NRF’s Thanksgiving Weekend Expectations survey, which provides a preliminary look at shopping expectations over Thanksgiving weekend, revealed that 67.6 million holiday shoppers said they will shop this holiday weekend, down slightly from 69.4 million who planned to do so last year, while 72.5 million said they will wait and see if the deals are worth it before they decide, up 2 percent over last year’s 71 million “maybe” shoppers.
“Consumers today want more than just the discounts they’ve been showered with since the start of the recession; they want exclusive offerings and a good reason to spend their discretionary budgets,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said, in the report.
U.S. shoppers made Cyber Monday the biggest online shopping day in history last year with a 20.6 percent increase in online sales to $2.29 billion, driven by mobile shopping, according to IBM's Digital Analytics Benchmark. While the average order value was $128.77, down 1 percent from 2012, mobile traffic grew to 31.7 percent of all online traffic and jumped by 45 percent over 2012. Last year, the NRF predicted more than 131 million Americans would shop on Cyber Monday, up from 129 million in 2012.
The NRF will release information about the number of people who plan to shop online on Cyber Monday on Sunday, Nov. 30, at 1:30 p.m. EST. Around 95.5 million people are expected to shop on Black Friday this year, up from 92.1 million people last year.
"We are positive retailers have a few tricks up their sleeve that will draw their customers to their stores and websites, deciding the deals are worth it after all,” Shay said.
Looking ahead on the economic calendar, most of the focus will be on the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report for November. The report, due out on Friday, Dec. 5, is expected to show U.S. employers added 230,000 jobs in November, up from 214,000 in October, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.
The unemployment rate is expected to tick down to 5.8 percent last month after hovering around 5.9 percent in September and October. Average hourly earnings are forecast to increase 0.2 percent and hours worked is expected to hold steady at 34.6.
Economists will focus on the initial reports for holiday sales from Cyber Monday and Black Friday, along with a solid jobs report at the end of next week.
“The income numbers are expected to improve, which could explain whether consumers are in more of a spending mood this holiday season. Hopefully we'll see that in those initial holiday weekend sales,” said Stuart Hoffman, senior vice president and chief economist for PNC Financial Services Group.
Here's the latest economic calendar for the week of Dec. 1. All listed times are EST.
Monday, Dec. 1
9:45 a.m. -- Markit PMI (Nov.)
10 a.m. -- ISM manufacturing PMI (Nov.)
China -- NBS Manufacturing PMI (Nov.)
Tuesday, Dec. 2
10 a.m. -- Construction spending (Oct.)
TBA Motor vehicle sales (Nov.)
Australia -- Reserve Bank of Australia interest rate decision
Wednesday, Dec. 3
8:15 a.m. -- ADP employment (Nov.)
8:30 a.m. -- Productivity (Q3)
8:30 a.m. -- Unit labor costs (Q3)
10 a.m. -- ISM nonmanufacturing PMI (Nov.)
2 p.m. -- Beige Book
Australia -- Gross domestic product (Q3)
U.K. -- Autumn Forecast Statement
Canada -- Bank of Canada interest rate decision
Thursday, Dec. 4
8:30 a.m. -- Weekly jobless claims
U.K. -- Bank of England interest rate decision
Europe -- Interest rate decision
Friday, Dec. 5
8:30 a.m. -- Nonfarm payrolls (Nov.)
8:30 a.m. -- Unemployment rate (Nov.)
8:30 a.m. -- Trade deficit (Oct.)
10 a.m. -- Factory orders (Oct.)
3 p.m. -- Consumer credit (Oct.)
Europe -- Gross domestic product (Q3)
Canada -- Unemployment rate