ShopperTrak: 1.4% traffic decline, 3.5% sales rise predicted for back-to-school

Chicago A report released Tuesday by ShopperTrak said that it expects total U.S. foot traffic for back-to-school 2010 to dip 1.4% while retail sales are expected to increase 3.5% for the same period as compared with last year.

ShopperTrak said its historical data suggests back-to-school (a period defined as the month of August) will perform much better than the 7.7% traffic and corresponding 4.9% GAFO sales declines retailers experienced in 2009 -- a period mired in the recession and compared to a rather strong back-to-school 2008, which occurred the month before the U.S. financial crisis began.

And while ShopperTrak predicts back-to-school traffic levels should decline this year, the company says this won’t be a surprise to the industry as back-to-school performance will most likely mirror sales and traffic levels seen throughout 2010.

“The data we’ve received from thousands of retail clients throughout the year shows traffic levels have been slightly down since just before the holidays, but spending has remained positive during this time, which points to value-driven consumers spending more during less trips to malls,” said Bill Martin, president of ShopperTrak. “In analyzing the upcoming back-to-school season, we think the relative positivity compared to last year added to pent up demand and the need to replace some worn out items will equal a 3.5% sales rise, which would ultimately be considered a strong season for retailers.” 

Martin continued: “While we anticipate some relative strength throughout August, we will continue keeping a close eye on gasoline prices and unemployment levels, which historically can dramatically impact retail performance.”

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