New York—As holiday sales come down to the wire this Saturday, expect to see more shoppers at brick and mortar retail, several new surveys suggest.
Many retailers are already gearing up, offering extending hours—some even open 24 hours through Christmas Eve.
While comScore reported this week that online sales surged to $6.28 million for the week ending Dec. 18, shopper traffic has picked up in the last week at retailers’ in-store locations, too.
Noting the recent pickup in traffic, ShopperTrak, which reports on foot traffic and sales at leading retailers, increased its holiday forecast to 4.1% year over year, up from its previous estimate of a 3% increase.
“Last week’s strong week-over-week retail sales increase is an indication of things to come,” said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder “Retailers will see sales increases all the way up to Christmas Day and the end of Hanukkah. As these important days get closer, shoppers will concentrate on completing their holiday shopping and year-over-year losses will be wiped out.”
Most Shoppers Interests? ‘Hot Item’ Businesses
According to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)-Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Index, released today, comparable store sales rose 3.4% for the week ended Saturday, Dec. 17, compared with the previous week. Compared with a year ago, sales for the week rose 4.6%.
“Consumers were out in force this past week trying to complete their holiday shopping,” said Michael P. Niemira, ICSC’s chief economist.
In fact, the ICSC/Goldman Sachs survey of 1,000 shoppers found that as of Dec 18, shoppers on average completed 70% of their holiday spending, compared with 74% a year ago. Another 9% haven’t even started their holiday buying, up from 6% the same time last year.
Meanwhile, in its The Shopping Activity Weekly Holiday Trends report ending Dec. 19, The NPD Group, Inc., a leading market research provider, showed a slight increase, 68%, in the number of shoppers at brick and mortar retailers, up from 67% the week before.
While grocery and drug stores account for much of that traffic, general merchandise and other channels had some of the greatest increases in shopping activity. Footwear chain stores, for instance, booked a 28% increase in visits, and footwear specialty stores were up 19% from the previous week, NPD found.
“The retailers getting the interest of shoppers are the ones that are in this season’s ‘hot item’ business,” said Marshal Cohen, NPD’s chief industry analyst. “Footwear, not thought of as a traditional holiday gift is building a trend of becoming a gift item for holiday. Think shearling boots.”
Foot Traffic Up at Footwear Retailers
Moreover, shopping conversation rates–NPD’s measure of shoppers engaged in the shopping experience and making a purchase—increased most in specialty footwear retailers (up 10 points). Specialty apparel stores had a 4 point increase.
“This is the second best week for brick & mortar conversion since we began tracking it for the holiday season,” said Cohen. “It’s a good sign that even during the latter part of the shopping lull consumers are back in the stores and buying again.”
With the NPD results showing a decrease in online spending, “brick & mortar shopping is expected to have a strong finish and be even stronger post-holiday period,” said Cohen, “Consumers are seeking the deal all season, and the deals are just now starting to shape up for some more dramatic discounts without the crazy hours to get them.”
Added Cohen: “The only issue will be…they won’t be the ‘pick of the litter,’ as retailers are already showing signs of broken stock on selected styles.”