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ShopperTrak revises holiday traffic downward based on expanded sample

BY Marianne Wilson

Chicago — Using new traffic forecasting metholdology, ShopperTrak now forecasts that 10% fewer shoppers will visit brick-and-mortar stores in the holiday months of November and December as compared to last year. In September, the company has projected a 1.4% decline in traffic.

The company noted that bright spots endure in its updated holiday forecast. The company expects retail traffic to rise 5% in the apparel and accessories category over 2012. And its sales forecast remains unchanged – the company predicts GAFO retail sales will increase 2.4% in the months of November and December compared to last year.

ShopperTrak has expanded its forecasting dataset to include more stores and categories. The company’s updated holiday forecasts are based on traffic information from every U.S. retail outlet the company monitors and now reflect information gathered from more categories of stores, including dollar stores, home furnishings, sporting goods, office supply, gifts stores and mass merchandise. It issued its September when it still used its smaller sample size methodology.

“We refined our models and methodologies to accommodate customer requests to be included in the index,” said ShopperTrak chief product officer Chetan Ghai. By expanding the universe of data included and evolving to a census model, clients will have a broader and more familiar comparison basis while retaining the ability to drill down to our traditional sectors."

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Forest City survey: Holiday shoppers looking for value

BY Marianne Wilson

Cleveland — Holiday spending expectations are in line with last year when in-store shopping accounted for 70% of spending, according to a new survey by Forest City Enterprises. The average in-store expenditure is expected to increase by 1% to about $774. The average online expenditure is expected to decrease by 0.3% to $330.

Holiday shoppers will be driven more than ever by value this year and that they expect to shift even more of their spending toward children, the study found.

Reflecting the apparent shift toward value shopping, 23% of shoppers surveyed expect to spend more on “value brands” this year than last. That compares with 13.9% who expect to spend more on “mid-price” brands and 12.6% who expect to spend more on “luxury brands.”

In contrast, almost a third (32.3%) expect to spend less on luxury brands.

Shoppers say they expect to spend more on children’s apparel (32.7%), accessories (28.7%) and toys (26.7%) – this year. They will be trimming spending on fine jewelry (38.7%), mobile phones (38.3%) and holiday décor (33.5%).

“Whether it’s a sign of tight economic times or more wishful and persuasive children, close to one-third of shoppers also plan to spend more on children’s categories this year,” said Jane Lisy, senior VP Marketing. “What your children want takes priority over your personal wishes.”

Other survey results include:

  • Most shoppers — 66% — aren’t aware that there are six fewer holiday shopping days this year than last.
  • With the ubiquitous presence of digital, social and mobile tools, 91.3% of shoppers said they will use one of these tools from this year – up slightly from last year. The biggest jump is among those who plan to use a mobile app for price research – 26.2% this year, compared with 19.3% last year.
  • About half (49.4%) of shoppers say they won’t be shopping in-store on Thanksgiving Day while 27.4% plan to do so. The remaining “not sure” group leaves open the potential for in-store traffic on the holiday to be as much as 10% higher this year.
  • The majority of shoppers say the traditional weekday shopping hours (10 a.m. – 9 p.m.) are the most convenient for them, and extended hours on Friday and Sunday nights have the most appeal.
  • About four-out-of-10 shoppers purchased a mall gift card in 2012 and plan to do so again this year.

Alexander Babbage, a leading strategic consumer research firm, conducted the online survey among shoppers representing Forest City centers nationwide. Altogether, more than 10,000 shoppers provided input on their holiday shopping plans and preferences.

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Fresh Market Q3 below Street

BY Staff Writer

Greensboro, N.C. — The Fresh Market posted weaker than expected sales and earnings for its third quarter. The upscale grocer also reduced its guidance for the year.

For the 13-week quarter ended Oct. 27, net income was up some 1.8%, to $11.1 million.

Net sales grew 13.4%, to $364.5 million. Comparable-store sales increased 3.1%.

“We continued to invest in our growth strategy this quarter as we opened 10 new stores in seven states, from Florida to California,” said president and CEO Craig Carlock. “Entering the final quarter of the year, I believe we are well-positioned to deliver store unit growth in excess of 17% and open a record 22 new stores this fiscal year.”

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