CE, Majap Holiday Seen Rising 1.5%

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NEW YORK — ShopperTrak, which measures retail store visits, is projecting a modest 1.5 percent increase in CE and appliance retail sales for November and December, but a steep 8 percent decline in foot traffic.

In contrast, the market research firm expects total U.S. retail sales to rise 3.3 percent for the period, and traffic to increase 2.8 percent year over year.

The company attributed the drop in CE and majap store visits to more targeted shopping excursions and the continued migration to e-commerce.

“Some of the traffic decline in the electronics and appliance category can be attributed to consumers going online to research premium-priced purchases or to purchase items at discounted prices,” said ShopperTrak co-founder Bill Martin. “You can’t, however, ignore the fact that 92 percent of total GAFO [general merchandise, apparel, furnishings and other merchandise] retail sales still occur in brick-and-mortar stores. Retailers who align their in-store and online strategies to provide multiple touch points and distinct value offerings for consumers will come out on top.”

Martin added that this year’s early Hanukkah and long, 32-day spread between Black Friday and Christmas “provides retailers unusual opportunities for success this season.”

Meanwhile, chain stores including Walmart, Target and Toys “R” Us are staffing up for the holidays in anticipation of the uptick in fourth-quarter sales.

Gisel Ruiz, executive VP and COO of Walmart U.S., said her division is bringing on 50,000 holiday hires and offering more hours to full-timers to ensure that the stores are adequately staffed during the period.

Walmart did not reveal its staffing levels last year, but said this season’s headcount will be up slightly.

Target’s seasonal target is significantly higher — 80,000 to 90,000 temps — but lower than the 92,000 hired last year, although 30 percent of those stayed on full-time.

The most aggressive is Toys “R” Us, which is increasing its seasonal workforce by 12.5 percent, to 45,000 staffers for its stores and distribution centers, on top of the 15 percent of last year’s holiday hires that remained with the chain. The No. 1 toy specialty retailer said the increase was needed in part to provide its new ship-to-store web service.

On a smaller scale, h.h.gregg said it’s looking to hire 1,000 fulland part-time sales staffers by early October to help man its 223 stores.

The increases come as consumer confidence rose last month to its highest level since last February, reflecting a more optimistic outlook for the job market, The Conference Board reported.

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