ShopperTrak: 4.2% holiday traffic drop, 1.6% sales increase predicted

Chicago ShopperTrak announced Tuesday that its Retail Traffic Index for the 2009 holiday shopping season revealed total U.S. foot traffic for the period is expected to decline 4.2% as compared with last year.

However, the good news is that the company’s National Retail Sales Estimate is forecasting a 1.6% bump in retail sales.

“In 2008 retailers truly experienced a perfect storm just prior to the holidays as gasoline prices remained high, the financial markets collapsed and the presidential election distracted consumers and slowed shopping -- equaling the worst year-over-year losses in holiday retail sales in over 40 years,” said Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak. “While retailers still haven’t recovered from this blow, energy prices have retreated, foreclosures have been stabilized, unemployment is rising at a slower rate, and our data shows retail traffic has been slowly increasing, which indicates consumer sentiment could be rising heading into the season.”

During the 2008 holiday shopping season, retail sales posted a 5.9% decline, while total U.S. foot traffic fell a whopping 15.4% from 2007. In 2007, sales and foot traffic increased 2.5% and 0.3% respectively compared to 2006. 

This year, ShopperTrak’s NRSE and SRTI indices are forecasting a 4.5% total U.S. foot traffic decline and a 0.1% retail sales decrease in November. In December, the company anticipates a slightly better 3.8% total U.S. foot traffic decline and a 3.3% retail sales increase.

In analyzing the top-performing traffic and sales days of the 2009 holiday season, ShopperTrak predicts Black Friday (Nov. 27), Super Saturday (Dec. 19) and the day after Christmas (Dec. 26) will be the strongest days.