CHICAGO, July 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- This August, retailers can expect that prepared parents will shop and spend more during the "back-to-school season" than they did last year.
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 4.3 percent in August, and retail foot traffic will increase 0.6 percent.
"Back-to-school shopping is the first major 'shopping season' of the calendar year, and has the potential to set the tone for the holidays," said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder. "The economy is, in many ways, stronger than it was last August. We expect that the 2013 season will continue the growth trend of both retail sales and foot traffic."
Indeed, in 2012, back-to-school sales increased 5.9 percent compared to the previous year. In 2011, those sales increased 4.5 percent over 2010.
Likewise, while this year's retail foot traffic increase may seem incremental, it continues the positive trend. In 2012, foot traffic turned around and increased a substantial 11 percent, compared to the back-to-school traffic in 2011. That year, foot traffic declined 5.1 percent from 2010.
Slow, Steady Gains Mean Opportunities for Retailers
The expected increases in August reflect the U.S. economy's slow but steady gains. For instance, unemployment this year is lower than it was during last year's back-to-school time. Though consumer sentiment does not impact retail sales immediately, the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index recently reached its highest level since the beginning of the recession. The last time consumer sentiment was as high as it was in May 2013 was in September 2007.
In recent years, back-to-school shoppers had focused on stores with the best values. But with this positive consumer sentiment, shoppers may be more willing to "shop around" at more stores – not just the value locations – thus adding to the increased foot traffic and sales.
"On the whole, more people feel better about their financial situation than they did last year in August," said Martin. "Parents are ready to spend on their children's school necessities.
The consumers will be browsing. In order to seize this opportunity, smart retailers must prepare their marketing and operations to increase their foot traffic, sales and ultimately, their shopper conversion rates."
About ShopperTrak's NRSE
ShopperTrak measures foot traffic in more than 60,000 global locations and analyzes the data in a proprietary, econometric model to create its ShopperTrak 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.
ShopperTrak counts more retail foot traffic than any other company in the world. The retail technology company collects and analyzes anonymous foot traffic, queue times and shopper demographics to identify revenue opportunities. ShopperTrak services are deployed in more than 60,000 locations in 90 countries and territories. The Chicago-based company has more than 200 employees, with offices in San Francisco; High Wycombe, England; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Shenzhen, China; and Helsinki, Finland. Find out more at http://www.shoppertrak.com.