Because Thanksgiving fell one week later this year than it did last year, the 2013 holiday season had six fewer days than the same period last year. As a result, shoppers had less time between Thanksgiving and Christmas to get gifts in the mail or under the tree. We at RetailNext decided to take a closer look at the full holiday season to uncover key trends in brick-and-mortar retail for the pivotal holiday shopping period. For in-depth coverage of the report, read more in Chain Store Age.
RetailNext analyzed more than 34.6 million consumer shopping trips to specialty and larger format stores during the 2012 and 2013 holiday seasons. An Infographic detailing average year over year (YOY) changes in traffic, conversion rates, average transaction value (ATV), and sales, for various timeframes during the season, is available below.
Holiday Period – Not surprisingly, there was 19.1% less foot traffic between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2013 than in 2012, largely due to fewer days in 2013. Fortunately for retailers, it wasn’t all bad, as ATV improved by 2.8% on average, while conversion remained positive, though nearly flat at 0.7% pts. Combined with a drop in returns of 12.6%, the positive trends in conversion and ATV helped retailers minimize the sales drop, which might have been more heavily impacted, based on sharp traffic decline.
Impact on Two Biggest Retail Months of the Year ─ The full months of November and December 2013 suffered a traffic decline as compared to 2012 YOY. Average sales decline remained at low single digits, which was aided by the average growth in average transaction value (ATV) and the slightly positive 0.2% point increase in conversion. Meaning, there were fewer shoppers in 2013 vs. 2012 in the combined months of November and December. However, because the average value of a transaction was higher in 2013, sales decline was not impacted to the same degree as traffic decline.
- Traffic down 6.5%
- Sales down 3.6%
- Conversion flat but ATV up 2.4%
- Saturday, Dec 21, second-highest sales and traffic day
- November Saturdays and Sundays lowest conversion days
- December average traffic decline of 6.3% and sales decline of 5.6%
Top Performing Days ─ Christmas Eve spoke volumes about shopper performance, with retailers seeing sales increase over 2% YOY despite an 11% traffic decline. Even though there was a traffic decline of 11% on Christmas Eve in 2013 vs. 2012 when Christmas Eve landed on a Monday, sales increased by over 2%. This is because retailers were able to better convert shoppers into buyers ─ and many at higher transaction values (ATV) compared to last year.
- Black Friday traffic was down 5.8%, with sales up .8%
- Black Friday saw the highest traffic and sales during the full holiday period
- Day after Christmas 6.1% traffic increase, conversion up 1.8% and sales up 12%
Thanksgiving Weekend ─ Shoppers appeared to respond well to the increased number of stores staying open on Thanksgiving Day this year and an ever-expanding number of open business hours throughout the weekend (Thurs-Sun). When compared to the full holiday period, Thanksgiving Weekend saw a 1.1% traffic decline, but a healthy increase in average sales.
- Conversion was up two points
- Sales were up 6.4%
Post-Holiday ─ The overall 2013 holiday outlook improved the day after Christmas when traffic was up 6.1% and sales improved an average of 12.0%, likely aided by return transactions converting into sales. For the broader post-Christmas period (Dec 26-30 for 2012 and 2013), retailers did not sustain the traffic and sales improvement seen right after Christmas. Traffic declined by an average of 4.7% in 2013, with sales closely following suit.
- Traffic and sales down over 4%
- Conversion up .5%
- Lowest conversion days of November and December were December 28 and 29
Given the holiday period shift and increasing prevalence of online and mobile shopping, it’s encouraging to see that brick-and-mortar retail experienced a modest decline in 2013. Big opportunities lie ahead for retailers in 2014, driven in part by transformative technologies. Retailers can expect to see mega trends from personalization to gamification. These trends will help stores engage a variety of omnichannel strategies to drive performance.