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Euclid: Customer caution grows in September

San Francisco - Walk-by conversion and in-store engagements among U.S., consumers slipped in September compared to August as consumers became more cautious and less compelled to shop after back-to-school spending. In-store analytics technology vendor Euclid’s U.S. Retail Benchmarks for September 2013, based on 20 million domestic shopping sessions, suggest September same-store and total store sales may be sluggish for many retailers.

Specific findings include:

  • Walk-by conversion in September 2013, defined as the number of shoppers who enter a store as a percentage of the total walk-by foot traffic, decreased to 14.4% from 16.3% in August 2013. The September conversion rate dropped to the lowest level since April after a consistent uptick this summer, tracking a similar low in consumer confidence. Shoppers also continued to focus on bigger-ticket items at the expense of other shopping, and as a result walk-by conversion suffered.
  • The percentage of shoppers who entered a store but left within five minutes ("bounce rate") was 15.6% in September 2013, up from 13.7% in September 2012. Despite the slight increase, September’s bounce rate maintained a meaningful improvement from the 17% high in July 2013. In-store engagement was strong amid back-to-school promotions, but weakened in September as consumers had less urgency to shop against a backdrop of unwavering economic uncertainty.
  • Shopping session duration, defined as the mean time from store entry to store exit, was 22 minutes 15 seconds in September 2013, a decline of 5.0% year-over-year and 5.7% from August 2013. The shorter shopping sessions during September, following a solid summer, again reflect a decline in shopper intent compared to the recent back-to-school period and a strong September a year ago.
  • In one positive sign, active repeat customers, defined as individuals returning to a store location more than once in 30 days, were 25.3% of total visits measured September 2013, up 140 basis points from the previous month. Repeat customers appeared responsive to increased marketing efforts and loyalty programs during the month. As Euclid expands its network, the company expects this metric to increase modestly.
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