FINANCE

Study: Brick-and-mortar sales down in 2014

BY Dan Berthiaume

San Jose, Calif. – Brick-and-mortar retail sales fell 8.8% from January to April 2014 compared to the same period a year earlier. RetailNext analysis of almost 59 million specialty and larger format retail stores within the continental U.S. also shows that store traffic fell 8.2%.

Other findings include that brick-and-mortar transactions fell 9.2%, and, sales per store slipped 0.8%. However, two positive developments were an average transaction value increase of 0.5% and a 0.81% decrease in returns.

"RetailNext has noted in past data published a decline in traffic numbers, which can result in a corresponding sales decline,” said Shelley E. Kohan, VP retail consulting, in-store analytics, Retail Next. “The customer today is making fewer trips to retail stores but we have found that once the customer lands at her favorite retailer, she will typically spend more money [higher spend Feb-Apr 1.4% up]. This can be attributed to two factors: Customers are making conscious choices about what products they want to buy online and which stores they want to visit to purchase product. The latter will normally have something to do with proximity and/or desire to shop in a particular retailer’s environment. Also, most customers have already done research on the product they are looking for prior to entering the brick-and-mortar environment, so there is higher probability of purchase and higher spend.

“Winning retailers understand these two factors and ensure that the retail environment they deliver is relevant to their customer and they have a golden opportunity to convert and upsell those committed customers that come into the store. If a customer has 10 things to purchase, he may buy seven online and select three retailers to ‘visit,’ so those three retailers need to make sure they deliver a shopping experience that meets or exceeds that customers’ expectation.

"The first quarter for fiscal 2014 has been a challenge for retailers with traffic down 6.5%. Conversion dropped slightly but had a significant impact on sales (-7.8%) when coupled with the traffic decline. Weather plays a role in these results with customers being less motivated to shop in inclement weather. And, the cooler temperatures play havoc with merchandise content in the stores because customers are not in the mindset for spring with unseasonable weather. April showed better results than previous months, but this is largely due to the shift of Easter from March to April. When the retail industry comes off a difficult fourth quarter, the first quarter has a tendency to follow suit. The second quarter should how more promising results."

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Edible Arrangements names CVS marketing head as president

BY Dan Berthiaume

Wallingford, Conn. – Robert Price, former senior VP and chief marketing officer for CVS/pharmacy, has been named president of Edible Arrangements LLC. At CVS/pharmacy, Price led all marketing, advertising, sales promotion, e-commerce, customer insights, store design and customer loyalty programs.

Prior to CVS/pharmacy, Price’s held positions with Wawa Food Markets; H-E-B Grocery Stores; Imasco Limited (the former parent company of Hardees and Roy Rogers Restaurants); and The Monitor Company, a strategy consulting firm.

"This is an incredibly exciting time for Edible Arrangements as we embark on an era that promises unique new opportunities for dramatic growth," said Tariq Farid, founder and CEO of Edible Arrangements. "A lot of our focus over the past year has been on putting the pieces in place that will allow us to take full advantage of these new opportunities. The addition of Rob, with his experience and expertise, significantly enhances the talented leadership team we now have."

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Consumers seek healthy QSR choices

BY Dan Berthiaume

Kansas City, Mo. – Healthy options are becoming increasingly important to customers of quick-service restaurants (QSRs). These latest trends are detailed in a new white paper, "QSRs and America’s Changing Tastes," by Sullivan Higdon & Sink (SHS) FoodThink.

Key takeaways from this white paper by SHS FoodThink that hint at a desire for more from QSRs:

• Forty-eight percent of consumers want more opportunities to customize orders.

• Fifty-one percent want QSRs to give them more options for sides.

• Fifty-eight percent say healthy options are important when selecting a QSR.

"Consumers want it all. They want their fast food to be convenient and low-cost, but now it also has to be of higher quality, healthier and use interesting flavor combinations," said Erika Chance, senior FoodThink researcher. "QSRs that have a mixture of these unique qualities, in addition to the basics, will be able to differentiate themselves."

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