As the dust settles following the close of the 2015 holiday shopping season, traffic results are emerging in retail and the off-price sector appears to be the clear winner.
Online sales are also pegged to deliver robust results, even though they garner only about 10 percent of total retail sales.
According to Customer Growth Partners, off-price retailers such as TJX Cos. Inc. and Ross Stores Inc. fared better than other channels as “shoppers displayed an accelerating flight to value-focused venues.” This was particularly true, CGP said in its report, for consumers in the lower fourth-income quintile. Dollar stores such as Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Five Below were also busy in the week leading up to Christmas.
The late-season rush “turned a previously miserable holiday season into at least a mediocre one,” said Craig Johnson, president of CGP, who upwardly revised his forecast for the season to 3.4 percent growth from prior guidance of 3.2 percent. Still, results are well below last year’s 4.6 percent year-over-year gain. CGP surveys shoppers at 50 retailers and various venues to capture more than 300,000 data points on sales, traffic and conversions.
By way of recap, the National Federation of Retailers expects holiday retail sales to gain 3.7 percent while the International Council of Shopping Centers has the gained pegged at 3.3 percent. AlixPartners expects retail sales to rise between 2.8 and 3.4 percent while Bain & Co. is calling for a 4 percent gain. ShopperTrak’s retail sales estimate is looking at a 2.4 percent gain while eMarketer expects a 5.7 percent increase.
Regarding online sales, which made it challenging for FedEx to deliver goods prior to Christmas Day, analysts have noted double-digit year-over-year gains with a higher percentage of shopping being done on mobile devices. But mobile commerce took a breather over the holiday weekend while wireline traffic spiked, according to data from Verizon.
The mobile provider said Monday that wireline broadband traffic directly attributed to e-commerce shopping activity rose 26 percent on Christmas Day as compared to average daily volume during the holiday season. “On Sunday, the traffic rose to a seasonal high of 30 percent above normal levels, and the December 25 to 27 stretch saw the highest three days of the 2015 season,” the company said, adding that a similar pattern occurred last year.
But Verizon said mobile commerce “dipped 2 percent below average daily levels on Christmas Day, indicating many consumers may have put aside their devices for the holiday.” On Saturday, mobile commerce traffic resumed, the company said.
By Dec. 26, mobile traffic resumed its upward trajectory, rising 4 percent above average daily traffic seen during the season. On Sunday, mobile traffic was 5 percent ahead compared to the average day during the holiday period.
Michele Dupré, vice president of retail, hospitality and distribution at Verizon Enterprise Solutions, said “retailers need to stay the course with their engagement strategies and continue to reach consumers with attractive promotions to give them a reason to buy as they make their returns and exchanges.”