Online Sales, In-Store Sales and How to Guarantee Accurate Super Bowl Predictions

After every holiday, the economic pundits get on the bandwagon.

Holiday 2022 was the same. Their numbers varied, but their storyline was consistent:

The Federal Reserve’s torrid rate hikes, the fastest in 40 years, would win the battle against inflation by mid-2023. By holiday 2023, the U.S. would be in recession.

That led to much doom and gloom when it came to projecting Peak 2023 holiday sales. Holiday shopping predictions for in-store retail sales ranged from no increase up to 1%. Pundits projected online sales would increase 5%.

Retail Sales Predictions – Who Should You Pay Attention To?

I am not an economist. However, beyond being a supply chain leader and businessman, I am a husband, a father and a grandfather.

In 2023, everything I read and saw made me think consumers were done with the pandemic. They were ready to go full bore and enjoy themselves. They were not going to deny themselves the pleasures the pandemic had taken away.

So, they spent 2023 shopping. And they were especially primed for big shopping sprees for the holidays.

I do not disagree with the logic of the economist. But at the end of the day, I anticipated that consumers would not listen to the economists. Instead, they would listen to their heart.

Consumers spend when they want to buy presents for their friends, family and loved ones. I expected more buying and selling for online shopping and brick-and-mortar stores.

Retail Sales Predictions – Me Vs. the World

That drove me to conclude that in-store sales would grow by about 2%, with online sales growing about 10%.

In fact, starting last summer, I penned blogs suggesting retailers and supply chain leadership should anticipate heavy Peak 2023 sales. That fourth quarter was going to require more workers and better transportation solutions.

Well, the bottom line has now been reported:  

 2023 Experts’ Prediction2023 My Prediction2023 Actual
Online$1.33 trillion$1.40 trillion$1.42 trillion
In-Store$3.69 trillion$3.74 trillion$3.76 trillion
Total$5.02 trillion$5.14 trillion$5.18 trillion

So, the final analysis reveals I was a bit conservative on both projections, online sales and in-store sales. But I came a lot closer than the experts.

2024 Retail Sales Predictions – Online Growth Will Still Outpace In-Store

So, what do I predict for online and in-store sales for 2024?

I expect more of the same.

Yes, recessions are around every corner, say the prognosticators. Here’s one that gives a 62.94% probability of a U.S. recession by December 2024. Here’s another economist saying the chance of a mild recession is 65%.

Despite that, I see online sales growing by 12%. I expect in-store sales to grow by 3%. The overall growth rate should clock in at 5.4%.

Interestingly, if these numbers prove true, I am projecting over 29% of all retail sales to be online in 2024. That would be eCommerce and buy-online-pick-up-in-store for the win.

That’s just astronomical growth from 0.9% in 2000 and 4.3% in 2010.

Back then, eCommerce largely meant online retailers. Now, the shopping experience goes beyond traditional eCommerce. Customer data show that people are also making more online purchases and driving to physical stores for store pickup. Shoppers in the United States increasingly have credit cards on their mobile devices. They use those mobile devices to search, find and shop online.

It’s a little too early to make predictions for the 2024 holiday shopping season. But it’s just the right time to prognosticate for the entire year.

Let’s come back and see how we do a year from now. My predictions:

Online$1.59 trillion (12% increase)
In-Store$ 3.87 trillion (3% increase)
Total$5.46 trillion (5.4% increase)

‘Experts’ Use Tricks for Accurate Predictions. I Don’t

First, there is an old quote: “If you can’t predict accurately, predict often.” That sounds like something a sportscaster, a stock analyst or a bookie might say.

That, in fact, is how many “experts” get so accurate with their predictions. They make 10 predictions. Two are correct. Next year, they talk up the two they hit, not the eight they missed.

And if you make a prediction late in the game, you’re more likely to get it right. If the home team is up 35 points at the start of the fourth quarter, your prediction is a lot safer than the one made a few weeks earlier. (The Buffalo Bills, down 35-3 to Houston in the third quarter of the 1992 playoffs, made the biggest comeback in NFL history.)

Predicting victory in the fourth quarter is kind of like the National Retail Federation giving predictions for 2023 holiday retail sales in early December. That was a darn good prediction.

Well, I don’t do that. My predictions are above. I will write again a year from now, and we will see how I did.

An Accurate Super Bowl Prediction You Can Bet On

Just one other closing thought on the riddle in the opening headline: My riddle: “If an Economist and a Consumer Scrap, Who Wins the Fight?”

The consumer, of course. Why?

Because the economist was focused on inflation and not on the fight.

If that joke didn’t get you, let me share one about my prediction for this weekend’s Super Bowl.

I love football. And I won’t wait until the fourth quarter to give my prediction.

In fact, I guarantee you I can predict the score of Super Bowl LVIII before it starts – with certainty.

Are you ready for the answer? Zero to zero.

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