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ShopperTrak predicts 3% increase in holiday sales

BY Marianne Wilson

Chicago — Retail sales will rise 3% percent during November and December compared to the year-ago period, but foot traffic will decrease 2.2%, according to ShopperTrak.

ShopperTrak’s holiday sales increase prediction follows 19 consecutive months of year-over-year U.S. retail sales growth. The expected increase is moderate compared with the 2010 holiday season’s 4.1% sales increase over 2009.

Conversely to sales, ShopperTrak expects foot traffic to continue decreasing through the end of 2011, due to high unemployment rates and gas prices seeing a 33% increase this season over last. So far this year, shoppers have visited an average of 3.10 stores per shopping trip, down from 3.19 per shopping trip in 2010 and far less than the four to five stores visited in early 2008 — prior to the recession.

"The persistently high unemployment and fuel rates along with consumers’ conservative purchasing attitudes will affect spending this holiday season more than in recent years,” said ShopperTrak co-founder Bill Martin. "Every shopper in a store will be more valuable than last year, and retail stores should be ready to convert their holiday shoppers into sales."

According to ShopperTrak, apparel and accessories sales will increase 2.7% while category foot traffic will decline 1.1% this holiday season compared to 2010. While consumers are expected to buy a bit more this holiday season than last, they are increasingly sensitive to value. Lower-end apparel and accessories specialty stores may be pressured to reduce prices to compete with discount chains. Higher-end stores, however, may have an advantage this season as shoppers seek quality purchases offering perceived value and longevity of use.

ShopperTrak expects the electronics & appliance sector’s sales to increase slightly by 1.2% over last year, while foot traffic will drop 4.9%.The category’s moderate outlook can be attributed to the limited number of blockbuster electronic products being introduced this season.

Value-conscious consumers are also increasingly using the Internet to stretch their dollars by shopping at online outlets with potential for deep discounts or researching premium priced, large purchases, ShopperTrak said. As a result, when consumers do walk into stores, they have a purchasing strategy and are less likely to browse. This will account for significant foot traffic losses this holiday season.

"As the economy continues to struggle, tracking daily foot traffic and understanding store traffic patterns is more important than ever," added Bill Martin. "Retailers who pay close attention to their browser to buyer conversion rates and adjust their product offerings, store layouts and staff scheduling to improve those rates will be the most successful this year."

ShopperTrak measures foot traffic in more than 25,000 stores in the United States and analyzes the data in a proprietary econometric model to create its National Retail Sales Estimate (NRSE) of general merchandise, apparel and accessories, furniture and other sales (GAFO).

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Aeropostale site goes global

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK — Teen retailer Aeropostale announced that it is expanded its reach to international consumers. Through a partnership with FiftyOne Global Ecommerce, consumers in more than 90 countries worldwide can now purchase directly from Aeropostale.com.

"We are excited about the addition of international shipping on aeropostale.com as it enables global commerce and further expands our customer reach," said Thomas Johnson, CEO at Aeropostale. "Aeropostale is truly a global brand with successful stores in the United States, Canada, and the Middle East as well as a loyal Facebook fan base with over 5 million fans around the globe."

Aeropostale’s partnership with FiftyOne Global Ecommerce enables it to offer customers the ability to shop in their preferred currency, with guaranteed landed costs and cost-effective international shipping and handling services, according to the company.

"We are thrilled to have partnered with Aeropostale to extend their brand online globally," said Michael DeSimone, CEO of FiftyOne. "International consumers have a tremendous appetite for quality U.S. apparel and the Aeropostale brand is sure to resonate with this wider global audience. By launching with FiftyOne, they’ll be able globalize on a proven platform that fully preserves the brand while providing international consumers in more than 90 countries worldwide with a rich, localized shopping experience."

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Apparel experts on Express exec track

BY CSA STAFF

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Express announced Wednesday that it has promoted Matthew Moellering to the position of COO and appointed D. Paul Dascoli as CFO. Moellering was previously chief administration officer and CFO.

Prior to Moellering’s role as chief administration officer and CFO, he held a number of senior finance positions including CFO since he joined Express in 2006. Before joining Express, he served in various financial positions with Limited Brands and Procter & Gamble. Prior to that, he was an officer in the United States Army.

"I’m pleased to announce the appointment of Matt Moellering as COO," said Michael Weiss, president and CEO of Express. "Throughout his tenure at Express, Matt has made significant contributions to the success and growth of our business, including leading the company through our IPO in May of 2010. As COO, Matt’s notable experience and perspective will enhance his oversight of the day-to-day operations of the business and allow him to focus more time on continuing to advance our four pillars of growth, particularly all of the operational requirements needed for international expansion," he added.

Dascoli’s extensive experience includes close to 30 years in a series of financial leadership positions with VF Corporation, Thomasville Furniture Industries, Revlon and PepsiCo. He most recently served as CFO for VF Jeanswear Limited Partnership, a division of VF Corp., where he played a key role in growing the iconic Wrangler and Lee brands in North and South America. He also serves on the board of Stanley Furniture Company and is the Chairman of their audit committee.

Dascoli will report to Moellering.

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