ShopperTrak Reports Flat Sales for Week Ending Nov. 1
Chicago ShopperTrak RCT’s National Retail Sales Estimate (NRSE) reported retail sales for the week ending Nov. 1 were up slightly, 0.2%, compared to sales for the previous week, but were 1.8% below the comparable week in 2007.
ShopperTrak attributed the sluggish performance to unseasonably warm weather throughout the Midwest and Northeast, which likely impacted consumer spending on seasonal merchandise.
The slower sales also supported ShopperTrak’s analysis that suggests consumers reduce spending immediately prior to a national election and concentrate on the candidates in the presidential race.
Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak, predicted, “After the election is over, consumers will most likely turn their attention to holiday spending while retailers will begin to heavily push holiday sales and promotions.”
Newspapers suffer circular setback
Every Sunday throughout the Tampa Bay area, the St. Petersburg Times and the Tampa Tribune dispatch small armies of people clad in brightly colored t-shirts to the region’s busiest intersections where they hawk newspapers to motorists. Such are the extreme measures required of the nation’s newspapers these days as they look to maintain circulation figures in an era when websites such as Craigslist.com and Monster.com have eroded the once lucrative classified advertising business. The Sunday newspaper remains a viable means of distributing Sunday circulars for many retailers, but only if circulation levels can be maintained. And even then the circular could fall victim to more efficient means of consumer communications.
For example, Target still distributes 50 million circulars each week, but the same ad is posted on the company’s Web site and visitors can also sign up to have the ad emailed to them. Target estimates that 60 million Web site visitors will view the weekly ad online this year, which is a 40% increase from the prior year. As if that weren’t troubling enough for newspapers, when the company opened its newest store in Wasilla, Alaska this October its circular was only available online.
“This online only approach not only saved us the cost of procuring and running a print circular, it gave us the opportunity to address price issues specific to the market as well as to offer some of the unique assortments to our Alaskan guests,” Target’s executive vp of marketing, Michael Francis, told analysts late last month. “An online circular also offers us an antidote to the steady decline in newspaper circulation.”
Affordable fashion comes to Wasilla
If only Target had opened its new store in Wasilla, Alaska a few months sooner. Perhaps then, the city’s former mayor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin could have loaded up on affordable fashion and avoided spending $150,000 on designer duds at Neiman Marcus and Saks. The revelation proved to be one of the more embarrassing moments of the presidential campaign, but Palin didn’t have an opportunity to shop at Target prior to October when the company opened its first two Alaska stores.
The new units were among a group of 45 new stores.
Hawaii is the only state where Target doesn’t have a presence, but that situation will change next year when the first new Target stores open in the Aloha state.