RetailNext has published our observations on 2012 holiday shopping performance. The key takeaways were:
- Traffic was down a massive 16.4% from 2011.
- Despite conversion and ATV increases of 1.4 basis points and 3.7%, respectively, sales were still off 3.4% YOY.
- Shopping happened late in the season, with four of the five top shopping days occurring within ten days of Christmas (the other being Black Friday itself). Furthermore, the post-Christmas period saw a strong sales increase of 12.7% despite a reduction in traffic. This increase owes itself to a conversion improvement of 1.8 basis points and a 6.7% increase in ATV.
The mind of the consumer going into the holiday season this year was impacted by the hurricane in the Northeast that left so many devastated for weeks after Sandy left town. This coupled with the horrific events prior to Christmas in Newtown and the looming tax increases impacting 2013 left a gap in the shopping mindset of the consumer. Retailers who were able to engage the customer by offering exclusive product or relevant values were the ones chosen for the personal visits from shoppers.
The calendar also had a strong impact on this year's results. In 2011 Christmas fell on a Sunday. That led to softness on the Saturday before Christmas (Christmas Eve), compared to 2012, when Saturday was an unencumbered shopping day with the season's largest sales. Likewise, the day after Christmas in 2011 was a holiday for most people, but not in 2012, leading to a significant sales drop.
The 2013 calendar will have its own idiosyncracies that retailers should account for to maximize the season. Stay tuned at this blog for more detail on the 2013 calendar and what retailers can do to plan for this year's holiday season.