ShopperTrak, a provider of shopper analytics, predicts that four of the 10 busiest shopping days will occur between Dec. 20 and Dec. 24, and advises retailers to prepare accordingly. Additionally, with a shortened shopping season and only four weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas — down from five last year — retailers must be ready to capture holiday spending during a narrower window of time.
ShopperTrak expects consumers will make slightly fewer store visits in November and December this year (1.4 percent fewer than in 2012), but this trend will not translate into a decline in spending. The company predicts national retail sales this season will rise 2.4 percent compared to the same holiday months last year.
Last year's 10 busiest shopping days accounted for more than one-third (35.7 percent) of sales of general merchandise, apparel, furniture and other products (GAFO) for the period of Black Friday (Nov. 23, 2012) through Jan. 5, 2013. According to ShopperTrak, this drove a 3.0 percent increase in total GAFO retail sales over the 2011 holiday season.
"Some shopping days — like Black Friday and Super Saturday — are always busy," says ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin. "But calendar changes affect each holiday season differently. Because Christmas falls on a Wednesday this year, it will create its own mid-week momentum without compromising the typically high weekend shopper activity. Retailers should anticipate such calendar shifts each year and prepare their marketing, labor and operations accordingly."
Black Friday (Nov. 29) will lead the way as the single busiest shopping day this holiday season, in both total retail shopper traffic and sales. This will be the tenth year in a row Black Friday produces top-performing sales and shopper traffic, the company said.
ShopperTrak anticipates the final Saturday before Christmas, known as "Super Saturday" (Dec. 21), will be the second-strongest shopping day of the season, followed by Dec. 22, Dec. 20 and Dec. 23.
Stores will see slightly more shopper traffic than last year on Black Saturday (Nov. 30), the day after Black Friday. ShopperTrak expects Black Saturday to rank sixth in shopper traffic and eighth in sales. In fact, ShopperTrak predicts six out of the 10 busiest days will be either a Saturday or Sunday — days shoppers tend to come to stores.