Retail store traffic down more than 7% during government shutdown

Chicago -- Although the first government shutdown in 17 years lasted 16 days, it left an impact on more than just the workers sent home after lawmakers failed to arrive at a deal to end the spending and debt stalemate. Total retail store shopper traffic during the week of Sept. 29 to Oct. 5 decreased 7.5% compared to the same time period last year, according to ShopperTrak, a leading provider of shopper analytics.

The Washington, D.C. area saw an even greater decrease, with an 11.4% decline in year-over-year shopper traffic the week of Oct. 6-12.

Even prior to the government shutdown that began on Oct. 1, waning consumer sentiment had triggered a decline in retail store shopper traffic. During the week of Sept. 15-21, shopper traffic decreased 4.7% compared to the previous year. The week of Sept. 22-28 saw a 5% traffic decrease compared to 2012.

Shopper traffic historically drops to seasonal lows in the weeks after Labor Day. ShopperTrak anticipated the onset of cooler autumn weather, Halloween and early holiday promotions would bring shoppers back to the stores in October.

“The furlough of hundreds of thousands of federal workers caused an inevitable decline in consumer visits to retail stores in the first half of October,” said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin. “Wednesday’s agreement, which also authorizes retroactive pay for furloughed federal employees, holds promise for a resurgence in shopper activity. However, we expect that it will take some time and revised strategies for retailers to recover from the impact the government shutdown had on sales and store traffic.”