Chicago – Brick-and-mortar retail sales declined 3.1 percent last week as pre-winter storms put the kibosh on late Christmas shopping.
According to market research firm ShopperTrak, the bad weather kept shoppers away in droves, with foot traffic falling 21.2 percent from Dec. 16 through Dec. 22, the last full week before Christmas and a critical sales period for retailers.
What’s more, sales on so-called “Super Saturday” – the last Saturday before Christmas and traditionally one of the busiest shopping days of the year – slipped 0.7 percent and foot traffic fell 18.1 percent despite additional discounts and procrastinator promotions.
“Bad weather throughout the country kept some shoppers away from stores,” said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin. “This past week was their final opportunity to complete their holiday shopping before Christmas – and though many did finish making their purchases, retailers did not see as many shoppers as last year.”
Instead, consumers let their fingers do the walking, driving double-digit online sales gains this holiday season. According to market research firm comScore, online spending excluding transactions through mobile devices grew 21 percent from Thanksgiving through Dec. 15, to $19.2 billion.
But brick-and-mortar retailers can still recoup some of those lost sales days during the post-Christmas period, ShopperTrak said, particularly the day after Christmas (Dec. 26) and the following Saturday (Dec. 28), when after-holiday markdowns can drive robust retail sales and store traffic.
“Many people who have the day after Christmas off of work will be out shopping for end-of-season deals,” Martin noted. “Retailers should track their stores’ conversion rates closely to turn more after-Christmas browsers into buyers.”