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Brick-and-Mortar Retailers and the New Holiday Shopping Calendar


holiday sales, holiday 2013, black friday, brick-and-mortar, retail, sales, shoppertrak, people counting, people counting technologyDid expanded shopping hours translate to higher dollars?

Retailers were definitely encouraged by the enthusiasm shown for the additional shopping day as people abandoned their festivities early to take advantage of pre-Black Friday discounts and doorbusters. In fact, ShopperTrak found that Thanksgiving Day represented 11.6% of the holiday weekend sales compared to 3.6% in 2012. There was even an increase of 2.8% in shopper traffic and 2.3% in retail sales compared to Thanksgiving and Black Friday of last year.

However, the holiday power hours didn’t yield the power purchasing retailers wanted.

In spite of retail efforts to compensate for modest shopping forecasts with longer hours and steeper discounts, the four-day weekend only brought a small 1% gain in national sales and a decrease of 4% in retail traffic from the prior year. Specific product sectors and regions fared better than others, but shopper traffic and sales for brick-and-mortar were predominantly down for the entire weekend.

Interestingly, although Thanksgiving may have been hot, Black Friday was not, with shopper traffic falling by 11.4% and retail sales by 13.2%. Shoppers were merely focused on getting their shopping done a day earlier by taking advantage of heavy discounts rather than expanding purchasing behavior over both days. Some had even been enticed into stores by sales earlier in the month. With a 3.9% decrease in average shopper spending compared to the same weekend last year, retail efforts didn’t lead to the impulse buying they needed. Consumers did their research, made their decisions and planned their shopping strategies ahead of time – and they didn’t stray from their lists.

Although only a few weeks remain, the holiday season is far from over. ShopperTrak anticipates that four of the strongest shopping days should occur right before Christmas (Dec. 22, Dec. 20 and Dec. 23, respectively) with “Super Saturday” (Dec. 21) traditionally being the second strongest of the season.

Retailers have time to energize their strategies, and much of it has to do with focusing on a valuable in-store experience. Employees are a critical component of these efforts and should provide the value consumers can’t get from on-line shopping. They must be equipped to give consumers what they want in the way they want it – whether through discounts, price-matching, great customer service, loyalty rewards, or other personalized benefits. Having the right insights into customer behavior will allow employees to offer these options while engaging them on the store floor and keeping them from leaving empty-handed.

With retailers relying on holiday sales to make up to 40% of their annual profit, every decision they make and action they take during this season is critical. For nearly 20 years, ShopperTrak has been helping retailers worldwide with its people counting technology by providing relevant, real-time data so crucial decisions can be made when they’re needed and when they count.


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