ShopperTrak Report: Retail sales up 1.6% in October

Chicago -- A report released Wednesday by ShopperTrak found that total GAFO (general merchandise, apparel, furniture, sporting goods, electronics, hobby, books and other related store sales) retail sales for the month of October increased 1.6% while total U.S. foot traffic rose 1.0% for the same period as compared to last year.

ShopperTrak’s National Retail Sales Estimate reported that both Columbus Day and the Halloween holidays helped push retail levels into the black in October.

Although traffic increased in October, as measured by the company’s Retail Traffic Index, results across the country were mixed as cooler weather in the Gulf states drove an increase in traffic for purchases of winter apparel, while warmer weather in the Midwest and Northeast accounted for year-over-year losses.

On a month-over-month comparison, total U.S. foot traffic and retail sales both increased a strong 4.3% as compared with September due to the Halloween and Columbus Day boost -- an expected monthly rise retailers see annually.

“Even with the help of some holidays in October, our data shows yearly retail levels performed just better than flat, which indicates the American consumer is most likely holding on to all disposable income right now in preparation for the holiday shopping season,” said Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak. “While it seems early holiday promotions and door buster sales throughout the month didn’t provide a substantial boost, retailers are more concerned with November and December performance, a period we believe will post a sales increase of 2.9% with flat traffic.”

ShopperTrak also reported that foot traffic in the Apparel & Accessories Store segment was flat compared with last year, followed by the Wireless & Electronics segment, which fell 1.1%.