November 1 marks the start of the official Holiday Shopping Season (it also marks Sweet Potato Awareness Month and who doesn’t love sweet potato french fries, or sweet potato casserole, or roasted sweet potatoes, or… when is Thanksgiving again?). But we digress. There are plenty of reasons for retailers to be of good cheer this year: the NRF is projecting 2018 holiday retail sales to increase between 4.3 and 4.8 percent over 2017 for a total of $717.45 billion to $720.89 billion. While consumers are already making decisions about what to buy and where to shop, industry insiders are debating the following:

  • Is Black Friday really dead?
  • Will Cyber Monday break online spending records like last year?
  • What effect will early, late, and month-long promotions have on the Thanksgiving shopping weekend?
  • Will quesadilla makers and cheesy graphic tees make a comeback this year?

That last one isn’t a joke! The point is, this season is going to be an interesting one.

In addition to an increase in sales, the holiday season also means an increase in returns. Whether an ugly sweater, problematic consumer electronic, or a novelty kitchen appliance, around 13%—or close to $95 billion worth of merchandise—once purchased/gifted/unwrapped, will be heading back to U.S. retailers this holiday season. That’s up 35% from 2016. Accordingly, it’s essential that retailers account for and have a plan in place for the flow of inventory coming back. This includes inventory that can’t go back on shelves and is slated for liquidation. And if you want more info on that, feel free to request a demo.

In the meantime, take a moment to reflect on these fun facts in November 1 history…

  • 1512, Michelangelo’s just-completed paintings on the ceiling of the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel were publicly unveiled by the artist’s patron, Pope Julius II.
  • 1604, William Shakespeare’s tragedy “Othello” was presented at Whitehall Palace in London.
  • 1910, John Adams moves into the White House.
  • 1938, Seabiscuit beat War Admiral at Pimlico.
  • 1967, the prison drama “Cool Hand Luke,” starring Paul Newman, was released by Warner Bros.
  • 1982, Honda opens first factory in the U.S.
  • 2006, Jackson Pollock’s No. 5 1948 is sold for $140 million.