According to a new RetailNext Composite Index Report, which aggregates and analyzes 18+ million shopping trips, specialty and larger format brick-and-mortar retailers within the continental U.S. experienced average traffic declines in February 2014 compared to last year, but significant improvements over January’s Shopping Freeze.
In fact, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), “following a bitterly cold and stormy January that left many retailers with disappointing monthly sales figures, February’s sales results were generally a bit more encouraging.” The ICSC found chain store sales increased 2.7% in February year-over-year (YOY) despite the severe weather continuing into the first half of the month.
RetailNext found February 2014 experienced an average traffic decline of 8.2% compared to last year. This was an improvement over January’s 11.7% traffic decline, which should serve as positive news for brick-and-mortar retailers. Sales in February, while down by 10.3% versus last year, was also an improvement compared to January’s 12.8% average decline. In contrast to January where there was a slight YOY uptick in conversion, February’s conversion was down 0.5% points compared to last year. Shoppers were willing to spend slightly more per transaction as ATV increased 1.6% YOY. The ATV increase was unable to counteract February’s conversion decline as sales per shopper (SPS) fell by 2.6%. Here’s how it broke down:
- Traffic -8.2%
- Sales -10.3%
- Conversion -0.5%
- ATV 1.6%
- SPS -2.6%
High & Low Days
The day before Valentine’s Day (February 13, 2014) saw the highest degree of conversion and sales per shopper of any day in the month, a result of last-minute gift buying activities that represent a potential opportunity for retailers. The Saturday after Valentine’s Day (February 15, 2014) saw the highest number of transactions and amount of sales of any day in the month. Interestingly, this day also experienced the highest volume of returns, perhaps of Valentine’s Day gifts.
As weather continues to improve, we expect to see improvements in the YOY trend. The long hard winter endured by those along the Atlantic and Midwest could have shoppers feeling peaks of spring fever. Some regions should see warmer-than-normal temps this April according to the Farmers Almanac long-term forecast (Atlanta +1°, NYC +4°, and Chicago +4.5° for example). Stay tuned for March’s Benchmark Report!
For more details, including daily, weekly, and key regional performance takeaways, please visit the complete RetailNext Composite Index, our monthly report that aggregates millions of retail performance data points to give you a pulse of the industry.