Although a quarter of respondents are uncertain due to factors like inflation and shifting consumer confidence, a majority of retailers in Levin Management Corporation's Pre-Holiday Sentiment Survey say they anticipate positive performance in the weeks ahead.

The 64% who said they were optimistic in the North Plainfield-based firm's most recent running of this annual poll represents a decline from 72% who said the same in 2021, but Melissa Sievwright, LMC vice president of marketing, said the comeback from the COVID-19 pandemic shaped a lot of that.

Last year, Sievwright said, consumers were just happy to be back in stores, and may have had extra money from government stimulus payments or vacations they didn't get to take.

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But even if prices of just about everything are seemingly on the rise these days, she said holiday traditions keep people coming back every year at this time in some way or another.

"I think your consumers now are changing the way they spend on certain things so they can still shop for Christmas," Sievwright said.

And as they change, Sievwright said, so do sellers.

Nearly half of the retailers surveyed said they expected peak sales either before (25.9%) or during (23.6%) Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend.

"Our retailers are ahead of the game and putting their sales out ahead of time this year, and the retailers that get ready early will be the winners this year," Sievwright said.

Almost a quarter (23.1%) of respondents told LMC that they are experimenting with new ways to reach customers, combining the best of in-person and online experiences.

Sievwright said "click-and-collect" is proving popular.

"It's nice to be able to see it online, it's available, go pick it up, and you know you've got your present ready to go. And that same-day delivery also is a nice convenience," she said, however adding that "brick-and-mortar is always going to be here to stay, and our retailers just need to be ready."

So while it seems as if the holiday season gets ever earlier and earlier, Sievwright said from a retail perspective, it's always a positive time of year.

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com

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