Chicago -- Retail sales are forecast to rise 2.4% during the holiday season of November and December while total retail traffic will decrease 1.4% as compared to the year-ago period, according to ShopperTrak, a leading provider of shopper analytics. The company also notes that retailers have less time to capture peak holiday spending: There are only 25 days lie between Black Friday (Nov. 29) and Christmas this year, compared to 31 days in 2012. 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 ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin. 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 well over 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 3.0% 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.”