Chicago ShopperTrak Wednesday reported that the critical holiday shopping season got off to a rather lukewarm start as the company’s National Retail Sales Estimate (NRSE) showed Black Friday weekend retail sales increased a marginal 1.6%, while ShopperTrak’s Retail Traffic Index (SRTI) posted a slight 1.1% decline in total U.S. foot traffic.
ShopperTrak’s data showed Black Friday began the season with a large spend as retail sales totaled $10.66 billion, equaling just a 0.5% increase over Black Friday 2008, but representing the largest dollar amount ever spent on the day. As is typically seen, Black Saturday experienced a bit of a spending hangover but still managed to post a slight 0.9% rise over last year with $6.107 billion spent. And while Sunday retail sales increased a seemingly impressive 5.2% ($3.73 billion), the comparison is favorable as Black Sunday 2008 started showing the steady declines retailers eventually experienced throughout the holiday season.
By comparison, Black Friday weekend 2008 retail sales increased 0.9% versus 2007, totaling $20.1 billion -- with Friday rising 3.0%, followed by 0.8% and 2.3% declines on Saturday and Sunday.
The SRTI reported total weekend foot traffic fell 1.1% as compared with 2008, as traffic slipped 2.5% on Black Friday, 3.2% on Saturday and was flat on Sunday. This traffic performance follows the 18.7% total U.S. foot traffic decline the company tracked for the same weekend in 2008 versus 2007 -- the largest three-day drop since ShopperTrak began compiling this data.
“In analyzing these numbers, the bottom line is retailers saw a slight sales increase with a minimal traffic decrease, both of which are tremendous improvements over sales and traffic levels we saw throughout 2009 prior to the holidays,” said Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak. “But, while this weekend is a bit encouraging, we’re still comparing to what turned out to be the worst holiday season we’ve ever measured, and smart retailers understand this reality. Because of this, we anticipate slimmer inventories and prolonged sales and promotions will boost December spending, which should provide the slight 1.6% retail sales increase we forecasted for the holiday season.”