SAN JOSE, Calif., July 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Graduation season brings with it backyard parties and nostalgia, but it also comes with lots of interesting retail data. After comparing the shopping habits of more than 8 million people nationwide for the time periods before and during graduation season, RetailNext found that the nation as a whole declined roughly 5% in shopping for traditional gifting items during graduation. The news wasn't entirely bad, however, as some categories and geographic regions showed a healthy uptick during the same time period. Two infographics detailing nationwide retail performance and then zeroing in on CA and MA tell the story.
The RetailNext study made these observations:
- The nation saw fairly consistent nationwide decreases in traffic to stores (down 5.4%), transactions at the register (down 4.7%), sales in dollars (down 4.3%) and items sold (down 5.6%).
- Some states, such as Massachusetts, managed to battle back from a decrease in both shopper traffic and number of transactions (down 3% in either case) for an overall slight increase in the dollar value of items sold (up 1%).
- Things were positively sunny in California. Despite a 17% decrease in traffic to stores, California retailers converted 5% more than they had prior to graduation season and therefore managed to increase both total transactions and dollars sold by 6% for the season.
"Comparing the bottom-line performance of Massachusetts and California highlights how important it is for retailers to find ways to convert store visitors into sales," said Chitra Balasubramanian, VP of Insights for RetailNext. "California shoppers visited stores one sixth less often during graduation season, which could have been a disaster for the state. But by converting shoppers at a considerably higher rate, California retailers came out ahead in a season that was tough for much of the nation."
One interesting graduation season shopping trend was a marked uptick in gift card shopping. Shoppers visited gift cards as a category 18% more often than in the baseline period, with a whopping 32% increase in shopping for cash-equivalent debit cards.
"This sharp increase in shopping for gift cards – and especially those debit cards that are taken in most stores – implies a preference for providing the recipient more flexibility in using the value of the gift," Balasubramanian said. "That might reflect frugality in the present down economy and soft job market."
The company analyzed 513 U.S. retail stores, looking at traffic, transactions, rate and length of engagement with individual product categories, dollars sold, and rate of converting shoppers to purchasers ("conversion"), in total examining the in-store behaviors of more than 8 million shoppers. The study compared shopping activity between a baseline period prior to the graduation season and the time period associated with high school and college graduations. The study focused its analysis on specialty retailers (those offering a single category of goods such as electronics, apparel, or luxury items) since those retailers are widely believed to benefit the most from gift shopping.
RetailNext is the leader in Applied Big Data for offline retail, delivering real-time analytics that enable retailers and manufacturers to monitor, collect, analyze, and visualize in-store data. The company uses best-in-class video analytics, on-shelf sensors, and data from point-of-sale systems and other sources, to automatically inform retailers about how people engage in their stores. The highly scalable RetailNext products easily integrate with promotional calendars, staffing systems, and even weather services, to analyze how internal and external factors impact customer shopping patterns – providing store operations executives with the ability to identify opportunities for growth, execute changes and measure success.
Headquartered in San Jose, CA, RetailNext tracks more than 300 million shoppers per year by collecting data from more than 20,000 sensors in retail stores and capturing and analyzing trillions of data points each year. RetailNext is a growing global brand operating in 18 countries. For more information, call +1-888-609-5877.