Chicago—For all the early holiday shopping preparations, retailers can expect to see more shoppers making last minute purchases this year. While many may actually be waiting in anticipation of deeper discounts, shoppers are expected to drive sales late in the season with four of the 10 busiest shopping days between Dec. 20 to Dec. 24, predicted ShopperTrak, a leading supplier of shopper analytics.
Moreover, due to the fact the shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas is five days shorter this year and only four weekends, retailers will have to be well prepared to capitalize on the last minute crush.
ShopperTrak expects consumers will make slightly fewer store visits in November and December this year (1.4% fewer than in 2012), but this trend will not translate into a decline in spending. The company predicts national retail sales this season will rise 2.4% compared to the same holiday months last year.
Last year’s 10 busiest shopping days accounted for more than one-third (35.7%) of sales of general merchandise, apparel, furniture and other products between Black Friday (Nov. 23, 2012) through Jan. 5, 2013. According to ShopperTrak, this drove a 3% increase in total retail sales over the 2011 holiday season.
ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin says “calendar changes affect each holiday season differently. Because Christmas falls on a Wednesday this year, it will create its own mid-week momentum without compromising the typically high weekend shopper activity. Retailers should anticipate such calendar shifts each year and prepare their marketing, labor and operations accordingly.”
Shoppers Procrastinate, but Prepared
Black Friday (Nov. 29) will lead the way as the single busiest shopping day this holiday season, in both total retail shopper traffic and sales. This will be the tenth year in a row Black Friday produces top-performing sales and shopper traffic, the company said.
ShopperTrak anticipates the final Saturday before Christmas, known as “Super Saturday” (Dec. 21), will be the second strongest shopping day of the season, followed by Dec. 22, Dec. 20 and Dec. 23.
Stores will see slightly more shopper traffic than last year on Black Saturday (Nov. 30), the day after Black Friday. ShopperTrak expects Black Saturday to rank sixth in shopper traffic and eighth in sales. In fact, ShopperTrak predicts six out of the 10 busiest days will be either a Saturday or Sunday – days shoppers tend to come to stores.
“The four weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas are pivotal for retailers,” says Martin. “Though shoppers may wait until the weekends to hit the stores, they will come prepared with information about exactly what they want to buy. Smart retailers will ready their staff to work with an influx of these knowledgeable shoppers this season.”
The following table shows ShopperTrak’s forecasted busiest holiday sales and traffic days in November and December 2013:
Sales Rank Traffic Rank Date
1 1 Friday, Nov. 29 (Black Friday)
2 2 Saturday, Dec. 21 (Super Saturday)
3 3 Sunday, Dec. 22
4 10 Friday, Dec. 20
5 4 Saturday, Dec. 14
6 (not among top 10) Monday, Dec. 23
7 5 Thursday, Dec. 26 (Day after Christmas)
8 6 Saturday, Nov. 30
9 7 Saturday, Dec. 7
10 9 Saturday, Dec. 28
(not among top 10) 8 Sunday, Dec. 15