ShopperTrak predicts 2.9% increase in holiday sales

Chicago Sales during the upcoming holiday shopping season are expected to increase 2.9% versus last year, according to ShopperTrak’s Retail Sales Estimate (NRSE). The company’s Retail Traffic Index (SRTI) forecasts a very slight 0.1% traffic decline for the same period.

Retail sales will rise 3% in November, according to the NRSE. In December, the company anticipates a flat traffic performance with a 2.7% retail sales increase., ShopperTrak predicts Black Friday (Nov. 26), Thursday, Dec. 23 and Super Saturday, or the Saturday before Christmas, (Dec. 18) will be the strongest sales days. Black Friday will post the strongest daily foot traffic, followed by Super Saturday and Saturday, Dec. 11.

ShopperTrak’s data shows consumers have adjusted to economic conditions by making fewer trips to malls and retail outlets and spending more during each visit. Over the last 10 months, shoppers have visited an average of 3.32 stores per shopping trip, down from 3.43 in 2009, and well down from between 4.0 and 5.0 stores visited prior to the recession in 2006, 2007 and early 2008. ShopperTrak expects the trend will continue as deal driven shoppers arrange retail visits around the most appealing deals and promotions this holiday shopping period.

Additionally, the company’s historical data shows the American shopper has become more frugal and “deal sensitive” as outlet store foot traffic has outperformed regular store traffic. On a weekly basis in 2010, regular stores have averaged a decline in traffic of 2.8% compared with the same weeks in 2009. However, outlet stores have averaged a gain in traffic of 2.5% compared with the same weeks in 2009.

“Although we are predicting a nearly three percent sales rise this season, any small increase has to be seen as relative at this point.” said Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak.: “Winning retailers will effectively entice today’s more spendthrift consumer this holiday season by creating more events to raise foot traffic and by offering various sales to maximize the shoppers spend during each visit.” ShopperTrak noted that the 2010 calendar shift could strongly influence season performance this year as Christmas falls on a Saturday, meaning retailers lose a critical selling period late in the season. Conversely, the annually strong day after Christmas (Dec. 26) now falls on a Sunday, which history suggests will attract bigger sales and more customers than the regular Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s.

“Although retailers are losing a Saturday this year, the day after Christmas provides an enormous selling opportunity and retailers who plan promotions and store operations wisely on this day will undoubtedly have a leg up this season,” said Martin.

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