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Report: Retail executives to drive sales with social media

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City — The third annual Retail Finance Outlook released Tuesday by CIT Group found that 80% of retail executives expect their holiday sales to increase or remain the same as last year. And they are eying social media as a means to drive sales.

Among the notable shopping days this holiday season, more than one-third of executives expect Black Friday sales to increase this year; more than a quarter expect Cyber Monday sales to be up and nearly a quarter expect Super Saturday sales to increase.

In addition, sensing that price-conscious consumers will again be on the look-out for bargains, 37% predict an increase in last-minute shopping, while 38% expect post-Christmas shopping days to be stronger.

The study found that retailers hope to attract consumers through social media. Nearly 60% of executives are shifting marketing dollars away from old media toward new media, such as social media campaigns. As part of that shift, 68% report increases in marketing and deals through social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter. In addition, 63% report that their web sales are growing (28%) or growing faster than other channels (35%).

“In what has been an otherwise mixed season thus far, retailers are doing whatever they can to maximize their holiday sales season,” said Burt Feinberg, group head of CIT Commercial & Industrial. “This preparation includes shifting marketing dollars away from old media toward new media to get the consumer in the door or on their website.”

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Nielsen survey: Most Black Friday shoppers head to department stores

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City — Nielsen’s annual Black Friday Shopping Survey, released Tuesday, found that 80% of consumers don’t plan to shop on Black Friday. Of those that do, 71% will head to department stores, 52% to electronics stores, 51% to mass merchandisers and discounters, 40% will shop online, 27% will visit toy stores and 23% will shop warehouse clubs.

The smallest percentage of shoppers will be the biggest spenders, as 32% of Black Friday shoppers plan to spend $100 to $250, 24% plan on $250-$500, 20% plan on $50-$100 and 15% plan on $500-$1,000.

Less than 10% say this will this be the first year they plan to shop on Black Friday.

According to Nielsen, shopping is now in full force as last week 35% of consumers started shopping. This is up from the 24% average over the 10 weeks the survey has been in the field.

Apparel and electronics are the big product pulls on Black Friday, as 62% of shoppers will buy clothing and accessories and the same percentage (62%) will buy electronics.

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ShopperTrak predicts Dec. 26 will be a ‘door-buster’ day

BY Marianne Wilson

Chicago — Up to 60% more shoppers will enter stores on Dec. 26 than on the same day last year, according to ShopperTrak, the world’s largest provider of retail and mall foot traffic counting services. The reason for the increase is due to the calendar: Shoppers will come out in full force on the day after Christmas because it falls on a Monday for the first time in six years. That day will rank third in foot traffic for the holiday shopping season, surpassed only by Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and Super Saturday, the Saturday one week before Christmas.

"Dec. 26 is a very important shopping day, as shoppers return unwanted gift items and shop for marked-down merchandise," said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak co-founder. "If retailers depend on last year’s shopper turnout and behavior as a guide for staffing and inventory plans, they will lose out on business this year. Dec. 26 is going to be a door-buster day."

According to ShopperTrak, each day of the week has a different traffic signature. Last year, Dec. 26 fell on a Sunday, a day that generally features abbreviated shopping hours, church service conflicts and even store closings tied to local "blue laws." This year, the important shopping day falls on a Monday — meaning regular shopping hours are available to consumers still on vacation and eager to leave the house on the day after the holiday.

"The last time Dec. 26 fell on a Monday was 2005," said Gary Dispensa, ShopperTrak senior economist. “We saw an increase in foot-traffic that day, due entirely to its position in the week "Using our historical data, unique econometric model and traffic counts from more than 25,000 locations across the country, we’re confident foot-traffic on Dec. 26 will greatly increase from what retailers saw last year — even with the recession."

Retailers should begin planning now to convert the shopper surplus they’ll see on Dec. 26 to sales, advised Martin.

"Scheduling more floor staff to minimize line abandonment, filling stock rooms with inventory and increasing store hours could make a big difference,” he said. “Don’t depend on last year’s experience. Only by monitoring same-store traffic can you ever really know what’s going to happen in the store and make smart decisions to capture sales."

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