During the peak holiday shopping period of November and December, consumers will spend more and visit more stores, according to the ShopperTrak National Retail Sales Estimate. ShopperTrak's forecast projects that, compared to the same period last year, national retail sales will rise 3.3 percent and retail foot traffic will increase 2.8 percent during those two key shopping months.
This forecast, which for sales follow 34 (of the past 35) months of year-over-year U.S. retail sales growth, is good news: holiday sales account for at least 20 percent of annual retail activity overall and are a key indicator of economic health.
"Retailers have reason to be optimistic about this season. It's clear that foot traffic is increasing and month-over-month sales continue to be better than expected," said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin. "In fact, our shopper visit data tell us that consumers are visiting more stores than last year. This influx of traffic will present opportunities for retailers to convert these visitors into buyers, especially with the extended holiday shopping season."
The Presidential election and an early Hanukkah give retailers the opportunity to get an early sales boost in the season. Moreover, the way the holidays fall on the calendar works to retailers' advantage by providing a longer shopping period between Black Friday and Christmas, as well as two extra weekends. "The calendar provides retailers unusual opportunities for success this season," said Martin, "but store managers will need to understand how the 2012 calendar differentiates this holiday season from past seasons. Keeping stores open for longer hours across an extended time between holidays adds to operating costs. Managers need to plan optimal staffing, scheduling, marketing and advertising with the calendar to achieve best results."