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Retail Sales to Rise 3% in 1Q But Foot Traffic to Drop 9%

Jan 13, 2014 1:40 PM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... ShopperTrak anticipates that U.S. retail sales will increase 2.8 percent  during the first quarter of 2014, despite its prediction of a 9 percent decrease in store foot traffic.

"We will continue to see the trend of steady sales increases as consumer confidence rises and the economy progresses," said Bill Martin, the founder of ShopperTrak. "And, while foot traffic will continue to slow due to changing consumer patterns – with more shoppers purchasing online or researching products online before heading to stores – retailers must remember an overwhelming majority of all retail sales in the U.S. will occur in brick-and-mortar stores. Retailers who deliver a seamless customer experience both in the store and across all channels will emerge ahead of the rest."

Preliminary retail sales estimates from ShopperTrak for the Christmas season, which included November and December, reflected a gain of 2.7 percent year on year to $265.9 billion; however, foot traffic to stores plunged by 14.6 percent. ShopperTrak anticipated that retail sales would have increased 2.4 percent.

"As we anticipated, retailers saw a gain in sales compared to last year as the economy continues to recover," said Martin. "However, consumers took a break from shopping after Thanksgiving weekend, so retailers were pressured to offer deep discounts and promotions in the final week before Christmas to finish the holiday on a positive note. In the future, retailers who promote throughout the season will be more successful than those who take a hiatus in the week or two after Thanksgiving. Promotions in early December offer retailers an opportunity to capture sales earlier without having to offer more extensive markdowns at the end of the season."

Thanksgiving Day shopping impacted sales on other, more traditional shopping days during the Christmas season, most notably on Black Friday. With more stores opening on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday sales fell 13 percent year on year, according to ShopperTrak. The strongest shopping days, in order,   were November 29, December 21, December 23, December 14 and December 22.

ShopperTrak revealed that sales in the apparel and accessories category increased  by 3.5 percent during Christmastime, while traffic decreased 0.6 percent.  Sales at electronics and wireless stores were up 4.8 percent, although traffic was down 12.9 percent.

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