Pulse Report: Stores’ November Performance In Line with Expectations as Holiday Season Gets Underway

Ray Hartjen
Ray Hartjen
Director, Marketing

While top line store performance metrics were down in November, they were in line with expectations heading out of Election 2016 and into the holiday season, and with digital channels leading the way, the retail industry is on pace to achieve a 3.2 percent lift over the season.

RetailNext’s Retail Performance Pulse report for brick-and-mortar store performance for the retail month of November (October 30 through November 26 on retail’s 4-5-4 calendar) has been published and is available for download. For the month, sales decreased 8.1 percent year-over-year on a 10.2 percent decline in store traffic.

Pulse Table - November 16 results

Download the Retail Performance Pulse for November’s complete results.

While sales and traffic were down, it’s important to note that they were in line with expectations. In developing RetailNext’s forecast of a 3.2 percent overall growth in sales over the November-December holiday season, RetailNext vice president Shelley E. Kohan had predicted an 11 percent decline in foot traffic in November.

Gift in front of treeOverall, retail had a positive start to the holiday season, with digital channels – particularly mobile – strong over the Thanksgiving/Black Friday weekend, and with Cyber Monday this year falling into December on the 4-5-4 calendar, momentum looks to carry forward to the new year. Holiday shopping has only underscored the importance of converging physical and digital channels into a singular, seamless, branded shopping experience.

The Pulse report also details results from the Thanksgiving/Black Friday weekend, where sales 4.2 percent from a year ago on a 4.4 percent fall in traffic, with both declines attributed to a variety of factors.

First, Black Friday long ago morphed away from being single-day event. A few years ago, it became a weekend, and last year it emerged as a week-long event. This year, shoppers were bombarded with Black Friday ads – particularly from automobile companies – before the candy corn was eaten after Halloween, and Cyber Monday itself started early on Thanksgiving Day. As such, shoppers are getting their deals and shopping earlier in the season.

Secondly, mobile shopping has grown incredibly easy, and more and more shoppers are comfortable with mobile browsing and purchasing. Shoppers have learned that store deals are also available in the digital channels, and with dynamic, real-time pricing, price changes often occur in digital channels first. Shoppers can actually get some of the better deals just by staying at home.

Finally, deals are driving sales declines. Average unit retail (AUR) was down over 10 percent over the Thanksgiving/Black Friday weekend from a year ago, and it’s a sign retailers resorted to heavy price discounting to drive business. Discounting and price promotions are the primary strategies for the off-price discount, outlet and warehouse club sectors, and they paid dividends early in the holiday season. Alas, for department stores, specialty apparel and other segments, it puts a tremendous amount of pressure to perform well through December.

Be sure to download your copy of the Pulse report for a full break down of brick-and-mortar store performance in November across the continental United States. You just might be surprised at the regional differences, including one region that posted truly positive physical store results.

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