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Retailers Should Expect Fewer Shoppers, But Bigger Tickets During 'Back to School' Season, ShopperTrak Experts Predict — Retailers hoping to sell more must convert browsers to buyers —

CHICAGO, July 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- As one of the most important seasons on the retail calendar approaches, retailers can expect bitter news to accompany the sweet: back-to-school shoppers will spend more than last year, but make fewer trips to the store.

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 3.8 percent in August, while foot traffic will decrease 2.9 percent.

ShopperTrak measures foot-traffic in more than 25,000 stores in the United States and 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 and since January 2005 it has been accurate to plus or minus 3 percent.

U.S. retail spending has been positive since February 2010, and ShopperTrak's back-to-school sales increase prediction follows 17 consecutive months of year-over-year growth, according to previous ShopperTrak NRSE reports. Because gas prices are 30 percent higher this summer than last, however, ShopperTrak expects foot-traffic to drop by 2.9 percent. In 2010, the back-to-school season saw a 0.5 percent decline in foot-traffic compared to 2009.  The forecasted numbers may drop further if Congress fails to act on the U.S. debt ceiling and nervous Americans decide to cut their spending.

"With back-to-school shoppers planning fewer trips to the store — and continued economic uncertainty — retailers must maximize the limited number of opportunities to convert browsers to buyers," said ShopperTrak co-founder, Bill Martin. "Tracking daily foot traffic and understanding store traffic patterns will equip retailers with meaningful business intelligence to ensure the best possible in-store experience for the customer and the maximum shopper conversion rate for the store."

Back-to-school sales and traffic have historically served as a key indicator for the winter holiday shopping season for retailers.  The data also help investment firms estimate future sales and earnings of publicly traded retailers.  Retailers who track and benchmark their store traffic and sales are in the best position to accurately pinpoint trends, popular products and take the necessary steps to improve store performance.

About ShopperTrak

A privately held entity, ShopperTrak leverages 20 years of retail expertise to be the industry's authority for information and analysis of the movement of shoppers in retail environments. ShopperTrak's cutting-edge retail intelligence solutions enable retail companies to benchmark their traffic and revenues at the national, regional and local levels and to better understand retail trends while determining the impact of store and staff performance on company revenues. With more than 50,000 units installed in the world's best known retail outlets and malls, the company's solutions provide a proven means for retailers to gauge labor efficiencies, advertising and marketing efforts, store design and remodeling programs, merchandise changes, associate training programs, and other budget-intensive strategic initiatives. For more information visit www.shoppertrak.com.

About the National Retail Sales Estimate (NRSE)

Developed by ShopperTrak, the National Retail Sales Estimate (NRSE) provides a nationwide benchmark of GAFO retail sales. NRSE is derived from the U.S. Commerce Department's GAFO (general merchandise, apparel, furniture, sporting goods, electronics, hobby, books and other related store sales) statistic, as well as ShopperTrak's proprietary industry intelligence on shopper foot traffic and sales. NRSE provides retailers, investors and policy makers the most accurate and timely information on consumer sales trends available today.

The data contained within this news release is the property of ShopperTrak Corporation and may be reprinted, published or broadcast, provided proper credit is given to the National Retail Sales Estimate (NRSE), the ShopperTrak Retail Traffic Index and ShopperTrak Corporation as the supplier of the information.

For more information on ShopperTrak's Retail Traffic Indices and the National Retail Sales Estimate of GAFO Retail Sales, please visit ShopperTrak's Website, www.shoppertrak.com.

SOURCE ShopperTrak



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