Arkansas Retailers Hope Holiday Season Is Happy

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Oct. 8, 2012 12:00 am  

Barbara Graves plans to launch an advertising campaign to lure customers to her store for the holidays. (Photo by Michael Pirnique)

During 2011, retailers added 660,000 workers; this year, seasonal hires could approach 700,000.

Greater Foot Traffic

More people are expected to be out shopping this holiday season, according to ShopperTrak of Chicago, which counts and analyzes retail foot traffic.

“It’s a reversal of a trend we’ve seen over the past four or five years of declining physical foot traffic,” Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak, said in an interview with Arkansas Business last week.

ShopperTrak predicts a 2.8 percent increase in foot traffic over the 2011 holiday season.

Martin said people were feeling better about the economy, a sentiment that translates into consumers visiting more stores.

And having more shoppers means more opportunities for retailers to benefit from customers who will make impulse purchases, he said.

Some shoppers will go to a store to inspect an item before buying it from an online retailer — a phenomenon called “showcasing.”

Martin said between 92 and 94 percent of individual retail transactions (not total dollars spent) were happening at brick-and-mortar locations.

“People still like instant gratification,” he said.

Still, Booz & Co., a management consulting firm in Chicago, found that 40 percent of consumers now describe showcasing as their shopping strategy, according to its 2012 Holiday Retail Outlook report.

“For that matter, multichannel shopping in various combinations (research online but buy in store, buy online for pickup in stores, etc.) is sure to be the dominant consumer path to purchase this year,” the report said.

Online sales are expected to have a banner year.

The NRF projects holiday online sales will climb 12 percent to between $92 billion and $96 billion — meaning about 15 percent of total projected sales.



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