Although sales and traffic were sharply down in October, RetailNext said in its monthly report that average transaction values showed the biggest gain in 15 months.
In the firm’s “Retail Performance Pulse” report, the analysts said the “warmest weather in October since 1963 negatively affected store traffic in a month where retailers are stock-full of cold-weather goods.” On Thursday, retailers posted lackluster same-store sales for the month and cited warmer-than-average temperatures for keeping shoppers out of their stores. More worrisome is that weather analytics firm Planalytics said it expects November to also be warmer than prior years.
Despite lower sales and traffic, RetailNext said the month’s average transaction values gained for the second month in a row with a 3.8 percent increase on a year-over-year basis. In September, ATVs rose 1.1 percent. Customer sales net of return dropped 12.2 percent in the month, while traffic declined 10.7 percent.
By shopping day, the firm said the last “Monday of October saw the least sales and transactions” while Halloween “drew shoppers willing to spend more, making it the highest ATV day of the month.”
By region, traffic declined the most — 15.8 percent — in the South, which saw sales fall 15.5 percent. ATVs in the South rose 2.5 percent. In the Northeast, traffic fell 9.4 percent as sales dropped 11.5 percent. ATVs in the Northeast gained 5.5 percent.
In the West, traffic fell 9 percent as sales declined 10.6 percent. ATVs were up 3.9 percent in the West. In the Midwest, traffic was down 6.5 percent as sales fell 12.2 percent. ATVs there shed 1.2 percent.
Despite the declines, the overall economy is solid, according to economists. While spending has been weak for some in the fashion apparel retail segment, consumers are doling out money at restaurants and entertainment as well as on bigger-ticket items such as autos and home goods.
IHS chief economist Nariman Behravesh said in his research note today that “consumer spending remains strong, and is on track this year to provide the largest contribution to [gross domestic product] growth since 2005. Meanwhile, the inventory deceleration experienced in the third quarter was swifter than expected, so fourth-quarter growth will suffer less.”