Retail sales are set to increase again this holiday season, according to ShopperTrak, but when compared to the same period last year, the increase may be lower. Retail sales of general merchandise, apparel, accessories, furniture and other products (GAFO) are forecast to rise 2.4% during the holiday season of November and December, the shopping analytics company noted.
However, shoppers are expected to visit fewer stores, within a shorter shopping window as compared with last year, which could impact sales, according to the ShopperTrak report.
This year’s sales increase will build on the 3% increase seen in 2012 versus 2011. The anticipated retail store shopper traffic decrease of 1.4% percent is down from the 2012 holiday season, which saw a 2.5% traffic increase from 2011.
“Although the economy continues to recover slowly, consumers remain cautious about spending and are not ready to splurge,” said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder. “Even though online buying increases each year, brick-and-mortar sales remain retail’s largest profit opportunity. Retailers who deliver a seamless experience both in-store and at every customer touch-point have the chance to capitalize and grab their share of wallet when shoppers visit the stores.”
Retailers have a reduced window of time to capture peak holiday spending as only 25 days lie between Black Friday, Nov. 29, and Christmas this year, compared to 31 days in 2012. Typically, weekends are busy times for customers to visit stores and, unlike last year, consumers have only four full weekends to shop, compared with five weekends last year.
In addition, Hanukkah begins the day before Thanksgiving, on Nov. 28, 11 days earlier than in 2012. While an early Hanukkah will not affect overall holiday sales, it will shift the time some retailers anticipate traffic increases. As a result, ShopperTrak expects promotions will begin as early as the day after Halloween— the very start of the holiday season.
“Nobody can afford to procrastinate,” said Martin. “Retailers must have their holiday marketing and operations ready to go when November begins, as consumers will be ready to take advantage of those deals.”