In-Store Visits Plummet in Holiday 2012, But Transaction Size Increases (Jan. 8, 2013)
Jan. 8, 2013
After a strong post-Thanksgiving start, in-store holiday retail sales were sluggish this season as an uncooperative calendar and a continued shift toward online shopping dragged down store visits. According to retail analytics provider RetailNext, brick-and-mortar retail traffic was down significantly in the 2012 holiday season, as the number of store visits fell a massive 16.4 percent from 2011. But retailers made the most of the customers they did get in the door, with a 3.7 percent uptick in average transaction value (ATV) helping limit the overall sales decline to 3.4 percent over last year. RetailNext measured data from more than 780 stores in the U.S. across nine big-box chains and specialty merchants over the period from Nov. 22 to Jan. 1.
Despite the overall declines, there were a few bright spots. Saturday, Dec. 22nd was a “monster” shopping day, according to RetailNext, with sales beating out even Black Friday’s by 11 percent. The post-Christmas period from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 was also relatively strong, with sales up 12.7 percent despite an 8.5 percent drop in traffic compared to last year. Still, both Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas were off from 2011, with sales down 1.5 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively—though the weakness on Dec. 26th was likely due partially to the fact that more people had that day off in 2011 than this year.
“There were important shifts in calendar days this season, which impacted sales and traffic to stores,” said Shelley Kohan, vice president of retail consulting, RetailNext. “In 2011 Christmas fell on a Sunday. That led to softness on the Saturday before Christmas, [Christmas Eve] compared to 2012, when Saturday was an unencumbered shopping day with the season’s largest sales.”
The calendar will likely play a major role in determining next year’s holiday sales, according to RetailNext, with six fewer days in the season due to a late Thanksgiving. “Retailers need a strategic plan to make up for less shopping time,” Kohan said. “I recommend a focus on increasing conversion and ATV in the earlier parts of November, especially Monday through Wednesday, which were the lowest converting days in 2012.”