OPERATIONS

Study: Convenience trumps price for both in-store and online shoppers

BY Marianne Wilson

Boston — The number one reason people choose to shop either in-person or online is convenience and not price, according to the results of a new survey released by Continuum, a global design and innovation consultancy. Continuum’s 2012 Service Design Report looked at data from more than 1,000 consumers across the country and uncovered the top reasons they choose whether to shop in-stores or online.

The top reasons respondents say they shop in stores are:
• For convenience (40%);
• They don’t trust the quality online (22%);
• They don’t want to pay for shipping/returns (17 %);
• For better prices (17%); and
• For personal interaction (4%).

The top reasons respondents say they shop online are:
• For convenience (43%);
• It is easier to find what they are looking for (29%);
• For better prices (25%); and
• To avoid interaction with employees (3%).

The fact that convenience seemed to matter more for shoppers than price was a surprise, given that many large national big box chains have begun to fiercely combat a trend known as ‘showrooming’ where consumers browse a physical store before buying an item online, presumably because it is cheaper. But showrooming is still something that shoppers enjoy, with 70% saying they found browsing in stores and then finding the product cheaper online was a satisfying experience.

"There is clearly a benefit for retailers to concentrate not only on price but also how they are designing as holistic an experience as possible for their customers to be able to efficiently interact with their brand whether it is in-person or online," said Craig LaRosa , principal of Continuum’s Service Design group. "A one-size-fits-all approach does not work when it comes to designing a great customer experience or service."

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FINANCE

ShopperTrak: Late shoppers fueled sales, traffic

BY Marianne Wilson

Chicago — National retail sales increased 2.5% and foot traffic also increased 2.5% when compared with the same two months last year, according to ShopperTrak, the world’s largest counter of retail foot traffic.

ShopperTrak’s initial data indicates that shoppers spent $248.8 billion during this period, which marked the third consecutive year with positive total retail sales. It also was the second holiday season of the past three with positive foot traffic changes.

The 2012 holiday season had the longest interval possible between Black Friday and Christmas, with an extra weekend of holiday shopping. As a result, many consumers procrastinated in finishing their holiday shopping.

But once the late-bloomers headed out to stores, their last-minute shopping and post-Christmas exchanges drove large increases in both retail sales and foot traffic during the final days of December. ShopperTrak forecasts that for the week ending Dec. 29, sales increased 18% and traffic increased 14.4% compared to the same period last year. This indicates the largest year-over-year increase of the holiday season.

“Heavy discounting by retailers at the end of December led to increases in shopper activity across the board,” said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin.

ShopperTrak estimates that three of the busiest foot traffic days occurred in late December. Though “Black Weekend” held its own – Black Friday, Nov. 23, retains the top spot and Saturday, Nov. 24 comes in as the fifth-busiest traffic day – the weekends leading up to Christmas saw the most shoppers at stores and malls. ShopperTrak reports that “Super Saturday,” Dec. 22, was the second-busiest shopping day of the season, followed by Saturday, Dec. 15 in third and Sunday, Dec. 23 ranking fourth.

Similarly, the top sales days of the holidays took place largely toward the end of the season. Black Friday again led the pack, followed by Super Saturday. Dec. 23, Dec. 21, and Dec. 15, in that order, rounded out the top five best sales days of the holidays. They helped to close the holiday season on a high note, according to Martin.

“The presidential election and Hurricane Sandy drew consumers’ attention away from shopping at the outset of the holiday retail season,” said Martin. “However, lower unemployment, higher consumer confidence and stable gas prices positively influenced shoppers to make purchases this holiday season.”

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STORE SPACES

Two new Nordstrom Racks in the works

BY CSA STAFF

Seattle — Nordstrom announced plans to open two new Nordstrom Rack stores, with one in Atlanta, at the Perimeter Expo shopping center, which is owned by Kimco Realty Corp., and the other in Naples, Fla., at The Mercato.

The 36,000-sq,-ft. Atlanta store is scheduled to open in fall 2013. The 30,000-sq.-ft. Naples store is scheduled to open in fall 2013.

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