Listen long enough and hard enough and you’ll hear it all. Open-air centers won’t work in cold climates. Malls are dead. Restaurants kill retail. Restaurants boost retail. Group restaurants. Scatter restaurants. Whatever.
When you’ve interviewed as many retailers and developers as we industry journalists do, you begin to feel something like a yo-yo, bouncing up and down amongst all the opinions and assertions, tangling with what’s reality and what’s not.
Even news reports can be misleading (this coming from a member of the press, mind you), depending upon how the information is spun. Take an early December
Turns out, that was the case. ShopperTrak reported a 14% retail sales increase for the week ending Dec. 29, and year-over-year traffic increases of nearly 7%. The report—ShopperTrak RCT Corp.’s National Retail Sales Estimate (NRSE)—attributed the sales and traffic rises to last-minute shopping, as well as widespread post-Christmas discounts and gift-card redemptions, putting “the holiday season right on track to reach ShopperTrak’s predicted 3.6% sales increase for the holiday season.”
Three-point-six percent may not be trumpeting material, but it’s a sight better than a downward skid. And it demonstrates that a little understanding for how consumers work would provide more reliable fodder for pre-holiday sales forecasts. For instance, a survey commissioned by the International Council of Shopping Centers found that only 50% of shoppers had completed half or most of their holiday shopping as of the time the survey was conducted—which was Dec. 13-16. Why the delay? Sixty-seven percent of shoppers felt cushioned by the calendar, as a full weekend just before Christmas allowed a two-day window for last-minute buying. Too, gift-card popularity served as a stress