That resulted in 2010 and 2011 holiday seasons with year-over-year sales increases, reported ShopperTrak, the largest provider of retail and mail foot-traffic counting services.
In a holiday recap released Monday, ShopperTrak found, however, that foot traffic declined 3.1% from last year.
“We know stores saw less foot-traffic and increases in sales during the holiday season, indicating consumers were focused and took fewer trips,” said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder. “Retailers who tracked their foot-traffic daily better understood and predicted shopper trends and made the most of every opportunity that walked through their doors with appropriate inventory and staffing adjustments.”
During the holiday season, ShopperTrak estimated consumers spent $251.4 billion dollars in general merchandise, apparel and accessories, furniture and other sales (GAFO). Though sales rose 3.5% over 2010, they missed slightly ShopperTrak’s forecast of a 3.7% increase.
Consistent with other recent holiday summaries, ShopperTrak found the holiday season was bifurcated: shoppers splurged through Black Friday weekend giving November the largest sales gain, a 4.4% increase to $134.2 billion. But sales slumped after that until the week before Christmas when sales jumped 14.4% to $193.7 billion.
Fewer Shoppers Spent More Money
While shoppers bought more, they browsed less according to ShopperTrak. In-store foot-traffic decreased 3.1% for the 2011 holiday season over the same period last year. According to ShopperTrak, foot-traffic suffered year-over-year decreases in all but two weeks from Nov. 5 through Jan. 7. Gas prices rose 13% over the average fuel prices in the 2010 holiday season, which may account for some foot-traffic loss.
“Our shopper-counts from 25,000 locations in the U.S. indicate shoppers were more targeted in their holiday shopping than in years past,” added Martin. “Many pre-shopped for gifts online and then went to stores with in-stock merchandise priced at the best values to make purchases.”
The only week with a year-over-year gain in shopper traffic during the holiday season was the week ending December 24, as late season shoppers procrastinated or sought out last-minute deals.
ShopperTrak expects the downward trend in foot traffic to continue in 2012. Converting fewer numbers of shoppers to buyers has never been more important for retailers who understand this critical retail health indicator.
“Although foot-traffic declined this holiday season compared to last year, it performed slightly above our expectations,” added Martin. “The season’s foot-traffic results make it clear that focused, convenience-oriented shoppers are here to stay, and retailers who track foot-traffic will be most successful in 2012.”
Apparel and Accessories Sales Up
The historically popular apparel and accessories categories’ sales increased 6.2% while its foot traffic declined 1.1% compared to 2010. Cold weather apparel sales may have suffered early in the season as unseasonably warm weather across the nation hurt purchases of coats, boots and other winter basics, ShopperTrak noted.
“This holiday season, we saw a very resilient American consumer,” said Martin. “Despite the struggling economy, retailers who accurately monitor daily foot-traffic and make appropriate adjustments to assist focused, value-driven buyers will succeed.”
ShopperTrak measures foot-traffic in more than 25,000 stores in the United Statesand analyzes the data in a proprietary econometric model to create its National Retail Sales Estimate (NRSE) of general merchandise, apparel and accessories, furniture and other sales (GAFO). Its estimate precedes the federal government’s official reports by several weeks and since January 2005 it has been accurate to plus or minus 3%. www.shoppertrak.com
Top Sales Days of 2011 Holiday Season (in billions of dollars)
Rank Date Dollars Spent
1 Nov. 25 $11.4
2 Dec. 23 $8.6
3 Dec. 17 $7.4
4 Dec. 26 $7.1
5 Dec. 22 $6.8
6 Dec. 21 $6.2
7 Dec. 10 $6.0
8 Nov. 26 $5.8
9 Dec. 18 $5.7
10 Dec. 20 $5.6
Top Foot-Traffic Days of 2011 Holiday Season
1 Nov. 25
2 Dec. 23
3 Dec. 17
4 Dec. 26
5 Dec. 10
6 Dec. 22
7 Nov. 26
8 Dec. 18
9 Dec. 3
10 Dec. 21