ShopperTrak: Week’s Retail Sales Fall 3.1%

Chicago ShopperTrak RCT Corp.'s National Retail Sales Estimate (NRSE) reported Tuesday that retail sales continued to slide last week as sales for the week ending Nov. 15 dropped 3.1% as compared to the same period in 2007.

On a weekly level, retail sales posted a 7.0% increase as compared to the previous week ending Nov. 8 as Veteran’s Day (Nov. 11) and early holiday-season promotions provided a much-needed boost for retailers. The solid weekly performance proves consumers are still willing to spend if promotions are perceived as good values, which could be a good sign, said ShopperTrak, heading into Black Friday weekend.

ShopperTrak also reported that to date, sales for the month of November compared to 2007 are down 3.7%.

In related news, ShopperTrak said Tuesday that the presidential election and the recent financial crisis kept shoppers at home rather than at their favorite malls—a pattern that is detrimental to retail sales heading into the critical holiday season.

“In the four weeks prior to the 2008 presidential election, shopper traffic fell by an average of 3.3% per week when compared to the same weeks in 2007,” said Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak. “In the recession year of 2002, shopper traffic fell by an average of 2.1% per week when compared to the same weeks in 2001.”

As noted in the company’s pre-election analysis, 2008 most closely resembles the election season of 2002, when the economy was in a slowdown and shopper traffic tapered off as the election approached.

“In 2002, the string of year-over-year weekly traffic losses ran virtually throughout the holiday season resulting in the lowest yearly gains in the retail sales for the period 1994 to 2007,” Martin said.

Year-over-year daily traffic has remained negative from the period Aug. 3 through Nov. 8.

“In August, stores and malls lost 5.3% of their traffic on average each day and by October this percentage fell to 9.8%, which is substantial,” Martin added.