OPERATIONS

Ace Hardware names CEO of largest chain

BY Dan Berthiaume

Oak Brook, Ill. — Ace Hardware Corporation has appointed Tom Knox, 59, as president and CEO of Westlake Ace Hardware, Ace’s largest chain comprising 85 stores. Knox will be leaving his role as VP, retail business development, training & supply at Ace’s corporate offices and relocating to the Kansas City area to pursue his new role.

“As president and CEO of Westlake, Knox brings to the table years of experience as a former multi-unit hardware store owner and long tenure helping Ace retailers make more money in the hardware business will serve Westlake Ace exceedingly well,” said Sasha Bigda, Director Corporate Communications and Media Relations at Ace Hardware.

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News

ShopperTrak: December 2013

BY CSA STAFF

Despite the short holiday season, December was still the biggest shopping month of the year.

Shopper traffic up more than one-third over November

Shoppers visited more stores in December 2013 than they did in any other month of the year. Despite retailers’ best efforts to promote Black Friday sales heavily in November and open even earlier on Thanksgiving Day, they saw shopper traffic increase 35% in December 2013 compared to the previous month.

The week of Christmas, even with the low traffic Christmas Day wedged in the middle, featured four of the top 10 shopping days of the month: Dec. 22, Dec. 23, Dec. 26, and Dec. 28. Christmas week also produced the most shopper traffic of any week in 2013.

Weather and holiday timing push December shopper traffic down compared to 2012

As anticipated, although up over the previous month, December 2013 shopper traffic did not keep pace with traffic from December 2012, down 17.7 percent. With Hanukkah falling on Thanksgiving in 2013, the December traffic usually associated with this holiday was not a factor in the 2013 data. Winter also had a greater impact on shopper traffic in December 2013 than a year ago, with more snow and cold than the December 2012 shopping season, leading more consumers to stay home and shop online for holiday purchases versus last year.

“December continues to be the strongest month for retailers, with the weeks leading up to Christmas including many of the busiest retail days of the year,” said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder. “As anticipated, the shortened holiday season and timing of Hanukkah shopping led to a dip in shopper traffic versus last year. And, while weather and consumer preferences drove more people to buy online, brick-and-mortar sales remain retail’s largest profit opportunity. Retailers who deliver a seamless, high-quality customer experience across all channels will continue to capture more share of wallet.”

ShopperTrak’s data and analyses in this article are based on counting billions of shoppers in more than 60,000 locations across 90 countries. ShopperTrak counts more retail foot traffic than any other company in the world. The retail technology company collects and analyzes anonymous foot traffic, queue times and shopper demographics to identify revenue opportunities. Find out more at www.shoppertrak.com.

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FINANCE

ShopperTrak: Holiday sales up 2.7% on lower traffic

BY Dan Berthiaume

Chicago — Despite the shortened holiday season and extreme weather in many areas of the country in the weeks leading up to Christmas, retailers finished the 2013 holiday shopping season with increased sales. According to ShopperTrak, during the holiday shopping season of November and December 2013, national retail sales increased 2.7% and foot traffic decreased 14.6% when compared to the same two months of 2012.

ShopperTrak’s initial data indicates shoppers spent $265.9 billion during this period. The 2.7% increase is slightly better than ShopperTrak’s early-season forecast of a 2.4% increase in sales. The 2013 holiday season marked the fourth consecutive year with positive GAFO retail sales, reflecting a growing economy.

“As we anticipated, retailers saw a gain in sales compared to last year as the economy continues to recover,” said ShopperTrak Founder Bill Martin. “However, consumers took a break from shopping after Thanksgiving weekend, so retailers were pressured to offer deep discounts and promotions in the final week before Christmas to finish the holiday on a positive note. In the future, retailers who promote throughout the season will be more successful than those who take a hiatus in the week or two after Thanksgiving. Promotions in early December offer retailers an opportunity to capture sales earlier without having to offer more extensive markdowns at the end of the season.”

Other notable statistics include:

  • Black Friday sales fell 13% compared to Black Friday last year.
  • ShopperTrak estimates that the strongest sales days were Nov. 29, Dec. 21, Dec. 23, Dec. 14 and Dec. 22, in that order. Black Friday, Nov. 29, also was the top traffic day, followed successively by Dec. 21, Dec. 23, Dec. 22 and Dec. 14.
  • Sales in the apparel and accessories category increased 3.5%, while traffic decreased 0.6% compared to 2012. Sales at electronics and wireless stores were up 4.8%, although traffic was down 12.9% year-over-year.
  • Compared to the 2012 holiday season, sales in the Northeast, South and West were up 1.9%, 3.2% and 5.1%, respectively. Sales in the Midwest were flat compared to 2012. Traffic in the Midwest, Northeast, South and West was down 17.1%, 15.8%, 14.2% and 12.1% year-over-year, respectively.
  • In first quarter 2014, ShopperTrak estimates retail sales to increase 2.8% despite an estimated 9% decrease in shopper traffic.

“We will continue to see the trend of steady sales increases as consumer confidence rises and the economy progresses,” said Martin. “And, while foot traffic will continue to slow due to changing consumer patterns, with more shoppers purchasing online or researching products online before heading to stores, retailers must remember an overwhelming majority of all retail sales in the U.S. will occur in brick-and-mortar stores. Retailers who deliver a seamless customer experience both in the store and across all channels will emerge ahead of the rest.”

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