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ShopperTrak Expects U.S. Christmas Retail Sales to Rise 3%

Calendar Shift Benefits Retailers in 2012
Sep 12, 2012 12:18 PM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... ShopperTrak anticipates U.S. retail sales will rise 3.3 percent during the November and December period, while foot traffic should increase 2.8 percent. Given that Christmas-season retail sales account for roughly 20 percent of annual sales, the group's holiday forecast gives store owners a reason to cheer and prepare.

"Retailers have reason to be optimistic about this season. It's clear that foot traffic is increasing and month-over-month sales continue to be better than expected," said ShopperTrak's founder, Bill Martin. "In fact, our shopper visit data tell us that consumers are visiting more stores than last year. This influx of traffic will present opportunities for retailers to convert these visitors into buyers, especially with the extended holiday shopping season." retail sales

With Thanksgiving weekend earlier in 2012, there are 32 days between Black Friday and Christmas, the longest interval possible. Weekends typically are busy shopping periods and this year's calendar gives retailers two extra: one full weekend before Christmas  plus a weekend between Christmas and New Year's Eve, as those holidays fall mid-week. Hanukkah falls 11 days earlier than it did in 2011.

"The calendar provides retailers unusual opportunities for success this season," said Martin, "but store managers will need to understand how the 2012 calendar differentiates this holiday season from past seasons. Keeping stores open for longer hours across an extended time between holidays adds to operating costs. Managers need to plan optimal staffing, scheduling, marketing and advertising with the calendar to achieve best results."

ShopperTrak also weighed how the U.S. presidential election impacts the retail cycle. In non-election years, retailers market heavily in October and into early November to drive store foot traffic as the holidays begin. However, this year,  political ads will dominate the airwaves and reduce the impact of retailer marketing efforts. ShopperTrak's analysis reveals shopping activity tapers off before national elections – with a decline of 6.3 percent the week before voting in 2008 – but rebounds quickly after the results are announced.

Consumers who were distracted during the election, however, generally dive into Christmas season  shopping  after the ballots are counted, so store managers must have their marketing and advertising ready to go on November 7 to capture the full sales potential of this season, according to ShopperTrak.

The group expects sales to increase 4 percent year on year for apparel and accessories, while electronic sales will rise only 1.5 percent.

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Tags: foot traffic, Jeff Miller, retail sales, shoppertrak
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