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CHICAGO – December 29, 2010 – ShopperTrak’s National Retail Sales Estimate (NRSE) today reported that total GAFO retail sales for Christmas week (week ending Dec. 25) slipped 4.1 percent compared to last year, while the company’s retail traffic index (SRTI) reported a strong 6.8 percent total U.S. foot traffic decline for the same period.
Although retail levels slowed last week, the 2010 calendar shift that placed Dec. 26 on a Sunday as opposed to a Saturday last year had the greatest impact on overall performance. By falling on a Sunday this year, Dec. 26 is not counted in the Christmas week performance, eliminating a day that finished third in sales and second in traffic in 2009 which was included in last year’s Christmas week data. This year ShopperTrak anticipates Dec. 26 will finish 10th in both sales and traffic.
“It seems the calendar was a bit unkind to retailers this year as the 2009 comparison week is particularly strong and a critical day in the season fell on a Sunday which created some unique challenges,” said Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak. “In some locations retailers didn’t have the ability to extend store hours on a Sunday due to various regulations, so there was a shorter window to move merchandise that day. Additionally, the beginning of some inclement weather in the Midwest, Northeast and South regions last week most likely influenced retailer’s levels as well.”
Because the 2010 calendar shift also provided a full week between Super Saturday and Christmas, Dec. 23 – a day ShopperTrak deems Father’s Day because of procrastinating male shoppers – saw strong returns and finished second behind Black Friday with $7.857 billion spent. Black Friday and Super Saturday accounted for $10.69 and $7.58 billion respectively. By comparison consumers spent $7.547 billion on Dec. 23, 2009, a day which also finished second behind Black Friday and ahead of Super Saturday.
Switching gears, ShopperTrak also measured the impact of the blizzard which crippled the Northeast particularly on Dec. 26 and 27 strongly impacted retail traffic in the region and across the country. The company’s analysis shows because of the blizzard:
- On Dec. 26 total U.S. foot traffic was 11.2% below what it would have been expected if the blizzard had not hit the Northeast
- Northeast region foot traffic fell 6.1 percent on Dec. 26 while the other three regions (Midwest, South, West) had an average gain of 38.6 percent versus last year.
- On Dec. 27 total U.S. foot traffic was 13.9 percent below expectations had the blizzard not hit the Northeast.
- Northeast region foot traffic fell 42.9 percent on Dec. 27 compared to 2009, while the other regions averaged a 13.0 percent gain.
- Preliminary GAFO retail sales estimates for Dec. 26 and 27 combined are roughly $10 billion. Assuming a conservative 10 percent sales impact nationally for the blizzard, roughly $1 billion of retail spending was postponed during the two day period.