Research from Applied Predictive Technologies (APT) showed a 2.2 percent nationwide drop in retail sales in August 2015 compared to the same month last year. The decrease was driven by less transactions, as Labor Day weekend did not begin until Sept. 4.
Excluding Labor Day sales, retail sales were up 0.5 percent for the month.
"The APT Index shows how dramatically sales can change when Labor Day shifts later and when states offer tax-free weekends for the back-to-school season," said Patrick O'Reilly, APT president and COO. "As a result, it's extremely important for retailers to determine how these changes affect each of their stores to appropriately benchmark store performance and make important decisions on rewarding managers, evaluating programs, and more."
Many states offered tax-free weekends in August to help consumers shop for the back-to-school season. According to the APT Index, tax-free weekends were 30 percent higher than normally expected.
States with the highest increase in retail sales during tax-free weekends include Oklahoma, up 36 percent; South Carolina, up 36 percent; New Mexico, up 33 percent; Tennessee, up 33 percent; and Missouri, up 31 percent.
Although transactions were down 3.8 percent along with the sales decrease in August, online apparel sales were up 6.2 percent, and the number of transactions grew 0.7 percent.
Other evidence that consumers were holding out for tax-free weekends and Labor Day promotions comes with the fact that only 50.4 percent of consumers had completed their back-to-school shopping by Aug. 19, according to the National Retail Federation.
-See this Applied Predictive Technologies press release
BTS shopping only halfway done
Walmart adds 30% more BTS discounts via mobile app, online
Back-to-school puts Generation Z in charge
Retailers concerned about fall sales
Back-to-school choices driven by localization