The latest read on January sales and traffic in physical stores from Retail Next confirms what retailers noted in monthly same-store sales reports: sales and traffic were soft.
But the analytics firm said in its Retail Performance Report that average transaction values eked out a 0.1 percent gain for the month. Year-over-year sales for January fell 4.6 percent while traffic dropped 4.3 percent. In December, sales were off 0.4 percent on a traffic decline of 5.8 percent, which followed a 5.6 percent sales drop in November on a 7.6 percent traffic decrease. In October, sales fell a whopping 12.2 percent while traffic dropped 10.7 percent.
The combined results for November and December reflect an overall lackluster holiday shopping season. And January — traditionally a slower month at retail — also showed higher product returns. Sales per shopper (SPS) showed a 0.1 percent decline for the month.
“[The] traffic drop [in January] was less than the preceding six months, a positive for physical retail,” the analysts noted in the report.” ATV was relatively steady at 0.1 percent, but continued a five-month streak of ATV increases. January marked the end of two consecutive months with increasing SPS. January also experienced a 0.4 percent increase in return transactions year over year, showing this year’s holiday shopping period resulted in a higher percent of returns.”
By region, traffic in the Northeast rose 0.6 percent while the South declined 6.9 percent and the Midwest fell 1.1 percent. In the West, traffic was down 1 percent for the month. With sales, the Midwest had the largest decline with a 6.6 percent drop, which was followed by the South’s 5.5 percent decrease. Sales in the West was down 3.1 percent while the Northeast had a 2.2 percent decline.
Retail Next noted that January was “colder compared to the last two years in most regions except for parts of the Northeast.” And the month was the wettest since 2013, and had the most snowfall of any month over the past two years.