Retail sales are expected to increase this holiday season, but retailers will have to work to earn their share. When compared to the same period last year GAFO retail sales (general merchandise, apparel and accessories, furniture and other sales) are forecast to rise 2.4% during the holiday season of November and December. However, shoppers are expected to visit fewer stores.
Holiday sales and store shopper traffic historically account for about 20% of annual retail activity. This year’s sales increase builds on the 3.0% increase seen in 2012 versus 2011. The anticipated retail store shopper traffic decrease of 1.4% is down from the 2012 holiday season, which saw a 2.5% traffic increase from 2011.
“Although the economy continues to recover slowly, consumers remain cautious about spending and are not ready to splurge,” said ShopperTrak Founder Bill Martin. “Even though online buying increases each year, brick-and-mortar sales remain retail’s largest profit opportunity. Retailers who deliver a seamless experience both in-store and at every customer touch-point have the chance to capitalize and grab their share of wallet when shoppers visit the stores.”
SHORTENED HOLIDAY SEASON PROMPTS EARLY PROMOTIONS
Retailers have a reduced window of time to capture peak holiday spending as only 25 days lie between Black Friday (Nov. 29) and Christmas this year, compared to 31 days in 2012. Typically, weekends are busy times for customers to visit stores and, unlike last year, consumers have only four (not five) full weekends to shop.
In addition, Hanukkah begins the day before Thanksgiving (Nov. 28), 11 days earlier than in 2012. While an early Hanukkah will not affect overall holiday sales, it will shift the time some retailers anticipate traffic increases. As a result, ShopperTrak expects promotions will begin as early as the day after Halloween – the very start of the holiday season.
“Nobody can afford to procrastinate,” said Martin. “Retailers must have their holiday marketing and operations ready to go when November begins, as consumers will be ready to take advantage of those deals.”
SALES UP, TRAFFIC DOWN IN APPAREL AND ELECTRONICS
According to ShopperTrak, sales and traffic in the apparel and electronics categories will mirror national trends. Retail sales in the historically popular apparel and accessories store category will increase 2.8% compared to 2012. Shopper traffic at apparel and accessories stores will decrease 1.0%.
ShopperTrak expects sales in the electronics and appliance store sector to increase 2.0% compared to last year, while shopper traffic will decrease by 1.2%.
“These trends are just another indication of how the consumer has changed,” said Martin. “It is critical to remember that well over 90% of all retail sales in the United States will occur in brick-and-mortar stores. Keeping a close eye on their in-store shopper analytics will help retailers succeed this holiday season.”[Source: "National Retail Sales Estimate." ShopperTrak. 17 Sept. 2013. Web. 20 Sept. 2013.]