More Retail Sales, Fewer In-Store Shoppers This Holiday Season

Despite continuing economic uncertainty, national retail sales for this holiday seasons are predicted to rise 3 percent this November and December compared with the same period last year, according to a recent announcement from ShopperTrak.

The expected increase in holiday spending is mild when compared with the 2010 holiday season’s 4.1 percent sales increase over 2009. And although holiday shoppers will be stuffing more stockings and putting more gifts under the Christmas trees, foot traffic in retail stores will be down 2.2 percent thanks to online bargains and deep discounts. This trend will continue to the end of this year because of high unemployment and gas prices increasing 33 percent, which is cutting into consumers’ disposable income. 

This holiday season’s store-traffic downturn is on trend with retail data ShopperTrak has compiled throughout most of 2011. Shoppers have visited an average of 3.10 stores per visit, which is down from 3.19 per shopping trip in 2010. Still, these are down from the the four to five stores visited in early 2008—before the housing market crash brought on the recession, says ShopperTrak.    

Although ShopperTrak didn’t single out jewelry and watch sales, it predicts the apparel and accessories category will see a 2.7 percent sales increase and a 1.1 percent drop in foot traffic.  

The release also touched on holiday-season shopping behavior. Consumers will be buying more but also looking for good values, especially online. The knock-on effect for in-store visits will be less browsing and more strategic purchasing.

“As the economy continues to struggle, tracking daily foot traffic and understanding store traffic patterns is more important than ever,” says ShopperTrak cofounder Bill Martin. “Retailers who pay close attention to their browser to buyer conversion rates and adjust their product offerings, store layouts and staff scheduling to improve those rates will be the most successful this year.”

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