iPhone 6 May Dampen Retailers' Christmas Joy

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Analysts have been harping on how many iPhone 6 and 6 Plus smartphones Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) will sell this year during the holiday shopping season. But will all those iPhone 6 sales cause problems for retailers? Canaccord Genuity analysts estimate that as much as 16% of this year’s projected holiday sales growth will be spent on a new iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.

iPhone 6 sales versus retail sales

The National Retail Federation estimates that holiday spending is about $600 billion annually, which is almost one-fifth of retail sales, which the organization estimates to be about $3.2 trillion annually. This year the NRF expects sales will rise by 4.1% this year, which would be the best growth rate since 2011 and far greater than the current millennium’s average, according to MarketWatch.

Analysts at Canaccord Genuity think the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will sell so well this year that retailers won’t do as well as they are expecting. Analyst Camilo Lyon thinks shoppers will spend about $4 billion on iPhone 6 upgrades and purchases this month and next. That would be about 16% of the projected incremental dollar growth, which the analyst estimates at $24.3 billion.

Apple to boom this year

According to Lyon, while Apple could see a very healthy shopping season this year, while retail businesses see only a sales increase of about 3.3%.

Of course the amount shoppers actually end up spending on iPhone 6 and 6 Plus smartphones will vary widely on which mobile plan they buy. Some will take a two-year contract with a subsidized phone, while others will buy the phone at full price up front. Still others will spread out the cost of the iPhone into monthly payments on their mobile plans.

Will retailers disappoint on earnings?

The good news for shoppers is that they may be able to take advantage of deep-than-usual discounts if retailers realize that they aren’t meeting sales expectations for the holiday shopping quarter, according to MarketWatch’s Brett Arends.

However, retail investors may want to rethink their strategies. Several retail stocks have soared to new highs ahead of this year’s holiday shopping season. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT), Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE:M) and Nordstrom, Inc. (NYSE:JWN) are some of the retailers investors are betting will deliver big earnings for the December quarter.

Arends notes that many retail stocks look to be priced “in line with modern averages” when looking at earnings projections. However, that’s only if their earnings end up being as good as Wall Street hopes.

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