CHICAGO, July 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- This August,parents will fill their carts with more pencils, supplies and back-to-school clothes than they did during the same period last year. Retailers can expect shoppers to both buy more and visit more stores during the month that captures the bulk of the back-to-school shopping season.
According to ShopperTrak — the world's largest counter and analyzer of retail foot traffic — national retail sales, when compared to the same period last year, will rise 4 percent in August, and retail foot traffic will increase 1.5 percent.
"This is an important shopping period, and retailers have struggled during back-to-school seasons the past few years," said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder.
After a sharp decline in 2009, year-over-year back-to-school sales improved only 1.8 percent in 2010 before increasing 4.5 percent in 2011. Year-over-year retail foot traffic percentages have also declined during the past four back-to-school shopping seasons.
"The tide will turn for retailers this year as we forecast a 4 percent increase in back-to-school sales," added Martin. "This increase will follow year-over-year U.S. retail sales growth in 28 of the last 29 months. August will present retailers with a tremendous opportunity to take all steps possible to maximize their shopper opportunity and increase conversion rates."
Back-to-school foot traffic to increase
ShopperTrak reports year-over-year foot traffic percentages have been trending positively since Presidents Day. The people counting company expects the trend to continue through August. Falling gas prices in recent weeks may encourage customers to make more car trips and visit more stores than they did last year. Lower prices at the pump may also translate into additional disposable income that parents can spend on their children.
"For the last couple of years, traffic data indicated a trend toward very targeted shopping. This year, back-to-school shoppers will visit more stores and browse for the best value," added Martin. "Stores that plan ahead and keep a close eye on their foot traffic and conversion rates will be pleased with their performance this season. Those who depend on last year's shopper turnout and behavior as a guide for their staffing and inventory plans are, however, at risk of losing out on business this year."
ShopperTrak measures retail foot traffic in more than 45,000 locations across 74 countries. The company then analyzes the data in a proprietary econometric model to create its National Retail Sales Estimate™ (NRSE) of general merchandise, apparel and accessories, furniture and other sales (GAFO). Its estimate precedes the federal government's official reports by several weeks. Since January 2005, it has been accurate within 3 percent. Forecasted numbers may improve or decline with unanticipated changes in the nation's unemployment rate, consumer sentiment or gasoline prices.
ShopperTrak is a retail technology company that anonymously counts people, analyzes data and identifies opportunities to increase revenue for retailers, mall developers and entertainment venues. Founded in 1995, ShopperTrak counts billions of shoppers annually in more than 45,000 locations across 74 countries. The Chicago-based company has more than 200 employees with offices in High Wycombe, England; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Shenzhen, China. Find out more at http://www.shoppertrak.com.