CHICAGO, Sept. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Retail sales will 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 are forecast to rise 2.4 percent during the holiday season of November and December. However, shoppers are expected to visit fewer stores. ShopperTrak, the leading provider of shopper analytics, anticipates that while sales will rise, total retail store traffic will decrease slightly compared to last year.
Holiday sales and store shopper traffic historically account for about 20 percent of annual retail activity. This year's sales increase builds on the 3.0 percent increase seen in 2012 versus 2011. The anticipated retail store shopper traffic decrease of 1.4 percent is down from the 2012 holiday season, which saw a 2.5 percent 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 percent compared to 2012. Shopper traffic at apparel and accessories stores will decrease 1.0 percent.
ShopperTrak expects sales in the electronics and appliance store sector to increase 2.0 percent compared to last year, while shopper traffic will decrease by 1.2 percent.
"These trends are just another indication of how the consumer has changed," said Martin. "It is critical to remember that well over 90 percent 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."
About ShopperTrak's NRSE
ShopperTrak measures retail store 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 and since January 2005 it has been accurate to within a 3 percent margin. Forecast numbers may change with any adjustments in the nation's unemployment rate, consumer sentiment, tax policies, weather events and geopolitical situations.
ShopperTrak is the leading global provider of shopper insights and analytics to improve retail profitability and effectiveness. Retailers rely on ShopperTrak for the most comprehensive and integrated solution for accurate retail store traffic counting, interior analytics and industry benchmarking to better understand in-store shopper behavior. More than 750 of the world's leading retail brands have ShopperTrak services deployed in over 60,000 locations across 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.