13% Drop in Q2 Retail Foot Traffic Predicted

Total U.S. foot traffic for the second quarter is expected to decline by 13 percent, according to retail intelligence firm ShopperTrak. In addition, the Chicago-based company estimates that sales for the period will drop 2.4 percent.

The current economy continues to heavily influence consumer shopping behavior as household wealth shrinks, job losses rise, and confidence remains at near record lows, the company said Friday. Although the second quarter contains annually strong shopping periods like Easter (due to the 2009 calendar shift), Mother’s Day, spring break, and various graduations, the retail intelligence firm’s data suggests the second quarter will perform very similar to first quarter.

ShopperTrak’s Retail Traffic Index (measures foot traffic in retail environments) estimates that first quarter foot traffic is down 13 percent. The company’s National Retail Sales Estimate (which measures retail sales) is predicting a 2.8 percent sales drop for the first quarter. ShopperTrak will release first quarter figures, April 15.

“Unfortunately, the sales and traffic declines we’re anticipating for the next three months aren’t a real shock to retailers as the economy remains in the doldrums and both retailers and consumers alike feel the pinch,” said Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak. “In looking at the data, it seems American shoppers were a bit spoiled by heavily discounted items during the holiday season which could be influencing current spending patterns as they wait for these deep discounts to reappear.”

Martin continued: “Looking ahead, Q3 should get a slight boost from the annually solid back-to-school shopping season and as always Q4 will benefit from the holidays—but our data seems to support the thinking of most economists which is real recovery most likely won’t begin until early 2010.”