Slow retail traffic in October will pick up for holidays

Shopping activity rebounded only slightly in October after a slow September, according to Euclid's monthly retail benchmarks report. And traffic increased only marginally compared to last October, 3 percent, with a significant drop in repeat visits. Total sales for the month declined 5.7 percent in general merchandise, apparel, furniture and other retail categories.

Euclid attributes the decline in repeat shopping visits to a pause before the holidays begin. In fact, the trend in shopping for October seemed to be normal for the retail industry.

"Although we expect October retail sales to disappoint, we believe spending will rebound in November and we will see healthy year-over-year growth in sales this holiday season," said Breton Birkhofer, data scientist, Euclid. "Due to positive momentum in consumer confidence and disposable income, we believe holiday sales will increase by low single digits year-over-year. We expect to see very engaged shoppers in the store as healthy browsing and gift shopping are projected to rise."

The best shopping day in October was Sunday the 19th, with the highest duration lasting 25.9 minutes. The slowest day of the month was Friday the 24th due to low duration coupled with high bounce rates. In general, the middle of the month had the best shopping days.

Looking forward, Euclid expects the most retail traffic to hit in December, particularly the second half of the month. "Last year we saw the most shopping activity during the weeks before and after Christmas, spilling into January, and expect to see similar trends this year. Many shoppers are expected to turn up to the store immediately following the holidays to take advantage of deep discounts and cash in on gift cards," said Birkhofer.

According to Deloitte's 29th annual holiday survey, 55 percent of consumers are shopping at malls this holiday season, but 28 percent will visit malls less this year than last. Why? The top three reasons are crowds, 49 percent; better prices elsewhere, 42 percent; and avoiding traffic, 36 percent.

However, Birkhofer warns that retailers will need to attract their loyal customers back into stores during the holidays because the quality of the traffic is important to achieving positive sales results.

He also warned that retailers need to be cognizant of crowded stores and long lines at the register. "Retailers cannot underestimate consumers' willingness to walk away if they are not receiving the attention they need from sales staff, cannot find the merchandise they are looking for, or see a long line," he added.

In preparation, the National Retail Federation calculated that the retail industry added 37,600 new jobs for October and 295,000 total, a 2.4 percent increase year-over-year compared to 2012.

For more:
-See this Euclid press release
-See this Euclid report

Related stories:
86% of retailers expect an increase in online holiday sales
SMB online holiday sales expected to grow 9%
Weaker holiday sales projected, except for certain retailers
Retailers add 15,200 jobs in September; holiday concerns persist
Retailers add 37,600 jobs in October as holiday hiring shifts into full gear

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