ShopperTrak: Holiday sales up 4%

Chicago -- Year-over-year retail sales rose a solid 4% for the 2010 holiday shopping season (November/December), according to ShopperTrak’s National Retail Sales Estimate.

Conversely, total U.S. foot traffic fell slightly below expectations as consumers continued the pattern retailers saw throughout 2010 of fewer mall and individual store visits with a larger spend. ShopperTrak’s revised holiday forecast called for a 1.8% traffic increase.

With very early holiday sales and promotions, November started off with a bang as retail sales for the first two weeks of the month (through Nov. 13) increased 6.1% versus last year, while total U.S. foot traffic increased a robust 6.2%. In all, November sales and traffic increased 5.8% and 4.6% respectively. By comparison, sales and traffic during November 2009 versus 2008 decreased 1.9% and 6.1%.

In December, retailers felt the wrath of Mother Nature as the crippling blizzard along the Eastern seaboard essentially wiped out shopping and delayed nearly $1 billion in sales on Dec. 26 and Dec. 27. ShopperTrak’s data shows overall monthly sales increased 2.6% compared with last year, while traffic declined 2.6%. In early December, ShopperTrak anticipated 2.2% and 0.2% sales and traffic increases for the month.

“Although early November door buster sales and promotions had been planned months in advance, the dramatic response, which quite possibly saved the season, was a very welcome surprise,” said Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak. “Then just as retailers were beginning to shake off sluggish returns from early December, the blizzard in the East and Northeast essentially wiped out traffic and sales in the days immediately following Christmas, strongly impacting overall monthly performance.”

Martin continued: “Although we’re still essentially comparing to depressed levels, the four percent sales rise this season is the first real positivity in two years and should be seen as a relatively encouraging sign for retailers heading into 2011.”

The NRSE provides a nationwide benchmark of retail sales. It is derived from the U.S. Commerce Department's GAFO (general merchandise, apparel, furniture, sporting goods, electronics, hobby, books and other related store sales) statistic, as well as ShopperTrak proprietary industry intelligence on shopper movement and sales statistics.
 
The ShopperTrak Retail Traffic Index measures traffic across five separate retail segments including total U.S. retailing. Available as a database or in newsletter format, SRTI reports national and regional traffic trends in a rolling 16 month trend line.