MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Retail store traffic down more than 7% during government shutdown

BY Dan Berthiaume

Chicago — Although the first government shutdown in 17 years lasted 16 days, it left an impact on more than just the workers sent home after lawmakers failed to arrive at a deal to end the spending and debt stalemate. Total retail store shopper traffic during the week of Sept. 29 to Oct. 5 decreased 7.5% compared to the same time period last year, according to ShopperTrak, a leading provider of shopper analytics.

The Washington, D.C. area saw an even greater decrease, with an 11.4% decline in year-over-year shopper traffic the week of Oct. 6-12.

Even prior to the government shutdown that began on Oct. 1, waning consumer sentiment had triggered a decline in retail store shopper traffic. During the week of Sept. 15-21, shopper traffic decreased 4.7% compared to the previous year. The week of Sept. 22-28 saw a 5% traffic decrease compared to 2012.

Shopper traffic historically drops to seasonal lows in the weeks after Labor Day. ShopperTrak anticipated the onset of cooler autumn weather, Halloween and early holiday promotions would bring shoppers back to the stores in October.

“The furlough of hundreds of thousands of federal workers caused an inevitable decline in consumer visits to retail stores in the first half of October,” said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin. “Wednesday’s agreement, which also authorizes retroactive pay for furloughed federal employees, holds promise for a resurgence in shopper activity. However, we expect that it will take some time and revised strategies for retailers to recover from the impact the government shutdown had on sales and store traffic.”

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STORE SPACES

Dollar General tests fuel stations

BY Dan Berthiaume

Goodlettsville, Tenn. – Dollar General is opening its first fuel station, as part of a test pilot project. The new fuel pumps are located at the Dollar General Market in Hanceville, Ala.

“Dollar General continues to innovate to provide convenience and value for our customers,” said Rick Dreiling, chairman and CEO. “This project to test a fuel offering is consistent with our strategy of continually looking for new and better ways to meet our customers’ needs for value and convenience and enhancing our position as America’s general store.”

This pilot project is part of an agreement with Mansfield Oil, which provides fuel supply, distribution, delivery, and dispensing solutions to customers. Dollar General and Mansfield will evaluate the results of the pilot project during the next year and jointly assess expansion opportunities.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Study: Four-in-10 smartphone users buy with device

BY Dan Berthiaume

Dallas – Four-in-10 (43%) of U.S. smartphone users purchased a good via their device in the last month. The new Parks Associates study “Mobile Commerce: Keys to Mass Adoption” also shows that 54% of Target shoppers have used their smartphone to make an in-store purchase in the last month, compared to 38% of Wal-Mart customers.

In addition, survey data shows that more than 25% of consumer electronics shoppers in broadband households have used mobile commerce apps on their smartphone to help with an in-store purchase decision, including functions such as product research, barcode scanning, and interaction with a retailer or brand app.

“There’s no such thing as a pure ‘in-store’ shopper anymore,” said Jennifer Kent, senior analyst at Parks Associates. “Consumers are checking online information about products before, after, and while they shop in stores. Retailers that embrace this trend will be in a good position to drive more sales within their stores.”

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