Retail sales expected to increase 1.2% in Q4

Chicago Retail sales and traffic for first quarter 2010 are expected to perform similarly to the 2009 holiday shopping season, providing a slight lift for retailers as the retail year begins, according to ShopperTrak.

Total U.S. foot traffic is expected to increase 1.8%, according to the company’s Retail Traffic Index, while its National Retail Sales Estimate is forecasting a 1.2% retail sales rise for the three-month period.

Following a dismal 2009, retailers received some much needed positivity during the holidays as the late spending rush saved the season, providing a 1.7% retail sales increase with a 2.9% traffic decline -- slightly above the company’s anticipated performance.

After analyzing current and historical data, ShopperTrak believes retail sales will perform very similar to the holidays, while quarterly traffic is expected to increase. By comparison, ShopperTrak reported first-quarter sales in 2009 fell 4.2%, while total U.S. foot traffic slipped a sharp 13.0%.

Retailers should experience lower sales and traffic levels in the early first quarter following the holiday shopping season. ShopperTrak said these slower levels will most likely continue through President’s Day (Feb. 15) -- which should provide a slight uptick due to the long weekend -- then remain slightly above last year’s pace until St. Patrick’s Day (March 17), which could also provide a slight retail uptick as well.