While traffic to retail stores picked up in August, data from Placer.ai reveals that not all segments are performing the same. The trending data is being closely watched as retail heads into the fall and holiday shopping season — which is expected to outperform last year.
With the summer period traffic trends, Ethan Chernofsky, vice president of marketing at Placer.ai, told WWD that the “overall retail category saw significant growth in August compared to the same month in 2019, a strong accomplishment considering the heights reached in the 2019 back-to-school season.”
“Yet, there were some categories, like apparel, that did see their relative performance take a step back,” Chernofsky said. “However, much of this appears to center around the comparison being made to the week beginning Aug. 23.”
In his analysis, Chernofsky said for the weeks beginning Aug. 2, 9 and 16, “all saw visit growth compared to the equivalent weeks in 2019.” But breaking that trend, “the week of Aug. 23 saw a 3.3 percent decline.” Chernofsky said while COVID-19 and the spread of its variants may have contributed, “the far likelier cause is the comparison to the week beginning Aug. 26 in 2019 which included the beginning of Labor Day Weekend.”
Chernofsky said with that context in mind, “it does appear that the wider retail recovery drove significant returns for many brands during the summer.”
Indeed, many retail analyst reports have noted this past summer as a moment when shoppers burst from their homes and headed to physical stores to satiate pent-up demand for shopping. Earlier this summer, Michael Renz, global retail technology leader at EY, told WWD that as shoppers return to stores, their expectations will include demands for “contactless shopping, curated assortments and auto-replenishment” while also expecting “high levels of service, more human touchpoints and things that can help them gamify shopping as a social activity. It’s worth bearing in mind that a year or more of lockdown is likely to have created pent-up demand, not only for products but also for human interaction.”
For the upcoming holiday shopping season, retailers are bullish about sales and expect this year to see double-digit growth, year-over-year, according to a retail executive survey this week from KPMG.
But there are some headwinds as retailers expect consumer prices to swell 15 percent year-over-year while the cadence of promotions will be more prominent. Sixty-eight percent of retail executives polled said they believe this holiday shopping season will be either “much more” or “somewhat more” promotional than last year — which could impact margins.