ShopperTrak: Holiday sales up 2.7% on lower traffic

Chicago -- Despite the shortened holiday season and extreme weather in many areas of the country in the weeks leading up to Christmas, retailers finished the 2013 holiday shopping season with increased sales. According to ShopperTrak, during the holiday shopping season of November and December 2013, national retail sales increased 2.7% and foot traffic decreased 14.6% when compared to the same two months of 2012.

ShopperTrak’s initial data indicates shoppers spent $265.9 billion during this period. The 2.7% increase is slightly better than ShopperTrak’s early-season forecast of a 2.4% increase in sales. The 2013 holiday season marked the fourth consecutive year with positive GAFO retail sales, reflecting a growing economy.

“As we anticipated, retailers saw a gain in sales compared to last year as the economy continues to recover,” said ShopperTrak Founder Bill Martin. “However, consumers took a break from shopping after Thanksgiving weekend, so retailers were pressured to offer deep discounts and promotions in the final week before Christmas to finish the holiday on a positive note. In the future, retailers who promote throughout the season will be more successful than those who take a hiatus in the week or two after Thanksgiving. Promotions in early December offer retailers an opportunity to capture sales earlier without having to offer more extensive markdowns at the end of the season.”

Other notable statistics include:

  • Black Friday sales fell 13% compared to Black Friday last year.
  • ShopperTrak estimates that the strongest sales days were Nov. 29, Dec. 21, Dec. 23, Dec. 14 and Dec. 22, in that order. Black Friday, Nov. 29, also was the top traffic day, followed successively by Dec. 21, Dec. 23, Dec. 22 and Dec. 14.
  • Sales in the apparel and accessories category increased 3.5%, while traffic decreased 0.6% compared to 2012. Sales at electronics and wireless stores were up 4.8%, although traffic was down 12.9% year-over-year.
  • Compared to the 2012 holiday season, sales in the Northeast, South and West were up 1.9%, 3.2% and 5.1%, respectively. Sales in the Midwest were flat compared to 2012. Traffic in the Midwest, Northeast, South and West was down 17.1%, 15.8%, 14.2% and 12.1% year-over-year, respectively.
  • In first quarter 2014, ShopperTrak estimates retail sales to increase 2.8% despite an estimated 9% decrease in shopper traffic.

“We will continue to see the trend of steady sales increases as consumer confidence rises and the economy progresses,” said Martin. “And, while foot traffic will continue to slow due to changing consumer patterns, with more shoppers purchasing online or researching products online before heading to stores, retailers must remember an overwhelming majority of all retail sales in the U.S. will occur in brick-and-mortar stores. Retailers who deliver a seamless customer experience both in the store and across all channels will emerge ahead of the rest.”