Holiday Traffic, Sales May Hit Record Lows

Total U.S. foot traffic during the 2008 holiday season is expected to decline 9.9 percent as compared to last year, according to ShopperTrak RCT. Meanwhile, it is forecasting a slight 0.1 percent increase in sales—both record lows.

“Due to numerous factors that retailers can’t control, 2008 has been a challenging year and it seems this pattern will continue throughout the crucial holiday shopping season,” said Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak, which monitors retail store traffic. “Currently we’re anticipating the lowest retail sales and total U.S. traffic numbers we’ve seen since we started compiling this data in 2001, which will most likely leave retailers scrambling to entice consumers into their stores early and often during the holidays.”

Interestingly, 2008 closely represents 2002, which had a shortened 27-day holiday shopping period, was a recession year, and also contained a national election. According to ShopperTrak, during 2002:

• Enclosed mall traffic averaged a 2.8 percent year-over-year decline each week in the month preceding the election.
• During election week, traffic declined 2.2 percent as compared to 2001
• In the weeks following the 2002 election, enclosed mall traffic remained in the doldrums, averaging a 3.9 percent year-over-year decrease all the way through the holiday shopping season

“Our historical data suggests that during election years consumer shopping slows in the weeks leading up to and immediately following an election,” Martin said.  “If the correlation between 2002 remains true, this is yet another strong factor that could influence fewer visits to malls and retail outlets, negatively impacting sales.” 

The full list of ShopperTrak’s predicted top traffic days, which will account for nearly 35-38 percent of all traffic during the holiday season, is as follows:

 

Rank  Day of Week      Date

 1       Black Friday           Nov. 28
 2       Super Saturday       Dec. 20
 3       Friday                     Dec. 26
 4       Tuesday                  Dec. 23
 5       Saturday                 Dec. 13
 6       Monday                  Dec. 22
 7        Sunday                   Dec. 21
 8        Friday                    Dec. 19
 9        Saturday                Dec. 27
 10     (Black) Saturday    Nov. 29