ShopperTrak, a leading provider of shopper analytics, anticipates a 2.4% rise in retail sales this holiday season, during November and December specifically, and expects total retail traffic to decrease 1.4% compared to the prior-year period.
Additionally, the company pointed out, retailers will have less time to capture peak holiday spending. There are only 25 days between Black Friday (Nov. 29) and Christmas this year, compared to 31 days in 2012. Unlike last year, consumers will have only four full weekends to shop, rather than the five they had last year.
An early Hanukkah, which begins the day before Thanksgiving (Nov. 28), will also affect holiday shopping this year, as it begins 11 days earlier than it did in 2012. Although the earlier-falling 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 ShopperTrak founder Bill 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.”
According to ShopperTrak, sales and traffic in the apparel and electronics categories will mirror national trends. Retail sales in apparel and accessories stores will increase 2.8% compared to 2012, while shopper traffic in these stores will decrease 1.0%.
ShopperTrak expects sales in the electronics and appliance store sector to increase 2% compared to last year, while shopper traffic will decrease by 1.2%.
“These trends are just another indication of how the consumer has changed,” said Martin. “It is critical to remember that more than 90% 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.”
Holiday sales and store shopper traffic historically account for about 20% of annual retail activity. This year’s sales increase will build on the 3% increase seen in 2012 versus 2011. The anticipated retail store shopper traffic decrease of 1.4% is down from the 2012 holiday season, which saw a 2.5% traffic increase from 2011.
“Although the economy continues to recover slowly, consumers remain cautious about spending and are not ready to splurge,” Martin said. “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.”