By Lenore Fedow
U.S. retail sales are expected to see a 4 percent year-over-year increase, according to a survey by Coresight Research.
New York—The official start of fall is just a week away, which means the holiday season is nearly upon us again.

Coresight Research’s recently released “Holiday 2019: U.S. Retail Outlook Preview” gave a first look at what retailers can expect this year.

The research group estimated U.S. retail sales will see about a 4 percent year-over-year increase during November and December.

Lower gas prices may buoy holiday spending by as much as 50 basis points.

Consumer confidence is expected to remain high, though the study noted it has experienced ups and downs as a result of the U.S.-China trade conflict.

Coresight’s “Holiday 2019: US Shopper Survey,” meanwhile, dived into the shopping experience.

The survey found that six in 10 holiday shoppers were concerned about tariff-related price increases, with a majority saying if prices were to go up, they would buy fewer things, shop at cheaper retailers or buy less expensive products.

More than two-thirds of shoppers will shop both online and in stores this holiday season.

In-store shopping was the top choice for browsing, comparing and brainstorming gift ideas. Shoppers prefer in-store shopping for ease of browsing, the ability to look at a product in person and the overall enjoyment of the experience, according to the survey.

Customers surveyed said they shop online as a way to avoid crowds and save time as well as effort.

Walmart and Amazon are expected to be the most-shopped retailers this season, with Amazon receiving a big boost from its Prime members.

Walmart and Target “stand to lose the most shoppers to Amazon,” the survey said.

In addition to the Coresight surveys, Google published its own holiday guide for retailers, the “Holiday Retail Playbook 2019,” in June.

The guide noted it’s never too early to start planning, with searches for “gifts for” and “gifts from” accelerating in the final week of October.

October to December is the peak time to drive online and offline sales, according to the guide.

Whether a customer is shopping online or in a store, Google found 67 percent of holiday shopping is planned before purchasing.

However, 67 percent of shoppers said there’s still shopping to be done the last week before Christmas, with 86 percent still shopping in the final days before Dec. 25.

“Shopping demand maintains through the holidays and into the new year, so make sure you’re setting flexible and sustainable budgets across your campaigns by examining historical data and layering your account’s current year-on-year trends,” the Google guide advised.

Google recommended making sure holiday store hours are posted online as shoppers scramble for last-minute gifts, flocking to local stores after e-commerce shipping deadlines pass.

Searches on Google for “store hours” peak on Christmas Eve, the highest day of the year, with 48 percent of shoppers open to buying from new retailers during the holiday season.

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