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Top retail CEOs weigh in on the holiday shopping season

Brian Sozzi
Editor-at-Large

President Trump has encouraged people twice this week on Twitter to spend, spend, spend this holiday season with their stock market winnings.

By all accounts, U.S. consumers appear to be poised to do just that thanks more so to the confidence stemming from rising wages and record low unemployment. U.S. consumers are expected to spend an average of $1,047.83 this holiday season, up 4% year-over-year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Adobe predicts that U.S. online sales will rise 14.1% during the holidays, totaling $143.7 billion. Total retail spending is seen gaining 4%, according to Adobe.

Thanksgiving Day holiday shoppers wait at the checkout lines at the Target retail store in Chicago (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS)

The two wildcards for retailers headed into the holiday shopping season: warm temperatures that may stunt demand for cold weather gear; a shortened calendar and the threat of U.S. tariffs on China crimping profits on re-ordered merchandise.

But by and large, optimism reigns supreme as always in my talks with scores of leading retail executives.

Here is what some top retail CEOs have told us ahead of the holiday shopping rush.

Jide Zeitlin, Tapestry chairman and CEO

  • 13-year Tapestry board member.

  • Chairman of Tapestry since 2014. 

  • Assumed CEO role in September, and now leads brands such as Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman

“It’s early days, it’s too early to have a read. What read I do have is that we are well-placed for the holiday season in terms of our products, gifting options. We are going into the holidays optimistic. We are going into holiday with a view there is opportunity there, but way too early to have a real view on the holidays.” 

Matt Reintjes, Yeti CEO

  • Yeti CEO since 2015.

  • Led Yeti through successful October 2018 IPO.

“It’s early. Our buying big spike seasons are the second quarter and the fourth quarter. When I think about the momentum from our first nine months we know the consumer is still showing up looking for our brand at wholesale and direct to consumer channels. So we feel really good about the momentum. As we look into the holiday, we expected similar dynamics that we have seen through the last handful of holiday seasons — which is that we have highly coveted and giftable items and we continue to bring newness and innovation that should play well in the holidays.”

Steve Rendle, V.F. Corp. chairman and CEO

  • Appointed CEO in January 2017; chairman in October 2017.

  • Leads top apparel brands The North Face, Vans and Timberland.

  • Led a successful spin-off of the company’s jeans business earlier in 2019.

“The second quarter started a little slow. But we saw a real nice acceleration as we came through the quarter and that momentum continued into October. Where there is cold weather, this is the time of the year where The North Face really starts to come to life. We are sitting here in 20 to 30 degree weather in Colorado, snow on the ground, and the activity in the stores here have been pretty robust.”

Andrew Rees, Crocs CEO

  • Joined Crocs as president in 2014; took over as CEO in June 2017.

  • Has jump-started Crocs by inking buzzy influencer collaborations

  • Crocs shares are up 70% over the past year.

“We lose a week [of sales] this year [due to the calendar shift]. We aren’t worried. We see very significant traffic increases in our stores and our website. So we are pretty optimistic.”

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @BrianSozzi

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