FINANCE

ShopperTrak predicts 2.9% increase in holiday sales

BY CSA STAFF

Chicago Sales during the upcoming holiday shopping season are expected to increase 2.9% versus last year, according to ShopperTrak’s Retail Sales Estimate (NRSE). The company’s Retail Traffic Index (SRTI) forecasts a very slight 0.1% traffic decline for the same period.

Retail sales will rise 3% in November, according to the NRSE. In December, the company anticipates a flat traffic performance with a 2.7% retail sales increase., ShopperTrak predicts Black Friday (Nov. 26), Thursday, Dec. 23 and Super Saturday, or the Saturday before Christmas, (Dec. 18) will be the strongest sales days. Black Friday will post the strongest daily foot traffic, followed by Super Saturday and Saturday, Dec. 11.

ShopperTrak’s data shows consumers have adjusted to economic conditions by making fewer trips to malls and retail outlets and spending more during each visit. Over the last 10 months, shoppers have visited an average of 3.32 stores per shopping trip, down from 3.43 in 2009, and well down from between 4.0 and 5.0 stores visited prior to the recession in 2006, 2007 and early 2008. ShopperTrak expects the trend will continue as deal driven shoppers arrange retail visits around the most appealing deals and promotions this holiday shopping period.

Additionally, the company’s historical data shows the American shopper has become more frugal and “deal sensitive” as outlet store foot traffic has outperformed regular store traffic. On a weekly basis in 2010, regular stores have averaged a decline in traffic of 2.8% compared with the same weeks in 2009. However, outlet stores have averaged a gain in traffic of 2.5% compared with the same weeks in 2009.

“Although we are predicting a nearly three percent sales rise this season, any small increase has to be seen as relative at this point.” said Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak.: “Winning retailers will effectively entice today’s more spendthrift consumer this holiday season by creating more events to raise foot traffic and by offering various sales to maximize the shoppers spend during each visit.” ShopperTrak noted that the 2010 calendar shift could strongly influence season performance this year as Christmas falls on a Saturday, meaning retailers lose a critical selling period late in the season. Conversely, the annually strong day after Christmas (Dec. 26) now falls on a Sunday, which history suggests will attract bigger sales and more customers than the regular Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s.

“Although retailers are losing a Saturday this year, the day after Christmas provides an enormous selling opportunity and retailers who plan promotions and store operations wisely on this day will undoubtedly have a leg up this season,” said Martin.

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FINANCE

Consumer Sentiment Index declined in October

BY CSA STAFF

Ann Arbor, Mich. — The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment, released Friday, showed that confidence among U.S. consumers unexpectedly declined in October, with Americans more pessimistic about current economic conditions.

The index decreased to 67.9, the lowest since July, from 68.2 in September.

Unemployment projected to remain above 9% through next year may keep weighing on sentiment and make Americans reluctant to ramp up their spending, which accounts for 70% of the economy.

The Thomson Reuters sentiment index averaged 89 in the five years leading up to the recession that began in December 2007 and has yet to reach that level since the recovery began in June 2009.

Separate figures from the Labor Department on Friday showed consumer prices rose 0.1% in September, less than forecast. The Commerce Department said Friday that retail sales climbed more than forecast in September; spending rose 0.6% following a 0.7% gain in August that was larger than previously estimated.

Consumer expectations for six months from now, which more closely projects the direction of consumer spending, rose to 64.6 from 60.9, which was the lowest since March 2009, according to the Friday sentiment index.

The survey’s measure of current conditions, which reflects Americans’ perceptions of their financial situation and whether it is a good time to buy big-ticket items such as cars, dropped to 73, the lowest since November, from 79.6 in the previous month.

Other index results showed that consumers expect an inflation rate of 2.6% over the next 12 months, compared with 2.2% projected in September.

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STORE SPACES

McDonald’s targets LEED Gold for California site

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — A renovated McDonald’s in Riverside, Calif., became the first McDonald’s west of the Mississippi, and the fourth in the United Sates, to seek LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification.

The building, which has stood as a McDonald’s restaurant for 44 years, reopened after a renovation that made the building more sustainable and energy-efficient. The new green features include:

  • Light colored hardscape to reduce heat emissions from site;
  • Native drought tolerant plants to reduce water consumption by landscape;
  • Low flow plumbing fixtures to reduce water usage;
  • Installation of 294 photovoltaic panels to generate a percentage of the restaurant’s power consumption; and
  • Recycled denim insulation inside the building.

The restaurant features an interactive touch-screen display for visitors to learn about the building, environmental sustainability, and how individuals can reduce their carbon footprint.

Other LEED-certified McDonald’s restaurants are located in Cary, N.C., Savannah, Ga., and Chicago. The Riverside restaurant expects to receive LEED certification within one year.

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