Thursday, November 3, 2011 | Edited by Daniel Moores
||ShopperTrak Identifies 10 Busiest Holiday Shopping Days
Week Before Christmas Holds Five of Season's Strongest Sales and Foot-Traffic Days
With national retail sales expected to increase only slightly throughout the entire holiday season, just 10 days will make or break the period for retailers, according to ShopperTrak, the respected provider of retail foot traffic counting, managed services and business analytics.
"Since Christmas falls on different calendar days each year, the shift impacts which days are the busiest. Some change in ranking or drop off completely," says ShopperTrak co-founder Bill Martin. "Retailers can't assume historical patterns will completely repeat themselves, and only by tracking in-store traffic can they understand the trends and prepare to capture business this holiday season."
According to ShopperTrak, the week before Christmas will be especially important this year, as five of the top sales and foot traffic days will occur between Dec. 18 and Dec. 24. While Black Friday is typically the strongest shopping day of the season, one third of all holiday sales are historically made in the week prior to Christmas. Retailers can expect consumers walking into their stores that week have conducted plenty of online research and are ready to buy.
Historically Strong Shopping Days
Prior to Christmas, ShopperTrak expects Black Friday (Friday, Nov. 25) to remain the top performing sales and foot-traffic day for the eighth year in a row, followed by Super Saturday on Dec. 17. Last year, Black Friday showed an increase in both sales and foot traffic over 2009; foot traffic increased 2.2 percent and sales increased 0.3, representing $10.69 billion in consumer spending and the largest dollar amount ever spent on the day.
Black Saturday, the day after Black Friday, historically shows a decline in sales from the previous day, but remains one of the season's top performers. Black Saturday 2010 showed a 0.9 sales decrease from the previous year, representing $6.06 billion dollars spent. This year, ShopperTrak expects Black Saturday to rank sixth in both sales and foot-traffic.
"Annually Black Friday weekend's strong start is one bookend to the season and the week leading into Christmas is the other," added Martin. "Successful retailers will prepare for these critical top ten days, track their traffic internally and make adjustments to capitalize on shopper opportunities walking through their doors."
Last year's top 10 busiest GAFO Retail Sales days accounted for 28% of GAFO Retail Sales for the Nov. and Dec. holiday season, and ShopperTrak expects this year's top 10 to be just as important.
The following list shows ShopperTrak's forecasted busiest holiday sales days (with their ranking as foot-traffic days in parentheses):
1. Friday, November 25 (1)
2. Saturday, December 17 (2)
3. Friday, December 23 (4)
4. Monday, December 26 (3)
5. Thursday, December 22 (7)
6. Saturday, November 26 (6)
7. Sunday, December 18 (9)
8. Saturday, December 10 (5)
9. Monday, December 19 (10)
10. Saturday, December 3 (8)
ShopperTrak measures foot-traffic in more than 25,000 stores in the United States and analyzes the data in a proprietary econometric model to create its forecasts.ShopperTrak measures foot-traffic in more than 25,000 stores in the United States and analyzes the data in a proprietary econometric model to create its forecasts.
(Source: ShopperTrak, 11/01/11)
||Pickups, SUVs Help Push Vehicle Sales to Eight-Month High in October
Consumers took advantage of stable gas prices and bought more trucks and sport utility vehicles, which helped push up the sales of new automobiles in the United States to an eight-month high in October.
Automakers said Tuesday that the annual selling rate for the month was slightly above 13.2 million vehicles, the best performance by the industry since February.
A big contributing factor was a surge in sales of pickup trucks at General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. The auto companies also reported strong sales of traditional SUVs and crossover models.
Overall, the industry sold about one million vehicles in the month, a 7.5 percent increase from October 2010.
Besides the relative stability of fuel prices, analysts attributed the strength of the truck and SUV market to a need for consumers and corporate fleets to begin replacing older vehicles.
"There are a growing number of consumers for whom a new vehicle is becoming a necessity," said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst with Edmunds.com, the auto research Web site.
Sales of pickup trucks rose about 9 percent in October over the same month year ago, and SUV sales climbed about 8 percent, according to the Autodata Corporation, a research firm.
About 53 percent of all vehicles sold during October were trucks and SUVs. Auto executives said part of the demand was seasonal, as consumers bought more rugged products in anticipation of winter driving conditions.
But the across-the-board rise in sales also showed that consumers were becoming less fearful of spikes in gas prices, and in many cases were choosing the utility of trucks and SUVs over the higher fuel economy provided by small cars.
"Historically, we have seen that consumers change their buying habits for three to four months when fuel prices are up," said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst with the research firm IHS Automotive. "There's still an awareness of gas prices, but at the end of the day consumers are proving that small cars aren't for everybody."
Chrysler reported the biggest gains of the Detroit automakers during the month, with a 27 percent increase over the same period a year ago.
The increase was partly a result of new car models like the Chrysler 200 midsize sedan and the tiny Fiat 500 subcompact. But Chrysler also reported a 21 percent increase in sales of Ram pickups, as well as robust sales for SUVs ranging from the compact Jeep Compass to the seven-passenger Dodge Durango.
By comparison, sales rose about 6 percent at Ford and 2 percent at G.M. Both companies reported increases in full-size pickup sales, which can be interpreted as a positive sign for the overall economy because those models are frequently purchased by contractors and builders.
Ford also said its SUV sales climbed 38 percent during October from a year ago, led by big increases in purchases of the compact Escape model and the midsize Explorer.
Foreign automakers had mixed results during the month. Volkswagen led with a 40 percent increase, followed by Hyundai with a 23 percent gain and Nissan with an 18 percent improvement. Honda sales were flat, and Toyota said its sales declined nearly 8 percent.
Many Japanese models were in short supply during the summer because of production disruptions related to the earthquake and tsunami in March. Inventory levels have recently improved, and some shoppers who put off purchases are now returning to showrooms, analysts said.
The industry's positive showing could carry over through the end of the year, particularly as consumers continue to replace older-model vehicles.
"The relatively strong selling rate seen in October suggests that the fourth quarter may close stronger than previously expected," said Jeff Schuster, head of forecasting at J.D. Power and Associates.
Auto sales have been steadily rising since the spring, despite continued high unemployment and low levels of consumer confidence. Many Americans are now replacing their vehicles.
In 2007, the average age of vehicles nationwide was 9.8 years. But that figure has now climbed to 10.7 years, according to Edmunds.com.
"We're entering a period now where vehicles need to be replaced because they are just getting too old," Ms. Lindland said. "Replacement demand will be a key to ending the year on a strong note."
The industry continues to be a bright spot in an otherwise uncertain economic picture nationally, analysts said. October was the eighth consecutive month in which auto sales topped one million.
"That's pretty resilient when you consider the onslaught of negative news," said Peter Nesvold, an analyst with Jefferies & Company. "This is not a $500 iPhone. This is a big-ticket, consumer discretionary purchase."
While G.M.'s overall sales were somewhat below expectations, October turned out to be the best month yet for the Chevrolet Volt, the company's plug-in hybrid electric car. G.M. said it sold 1,100 Volts during the month, compared with its chief competition, the all-electric Nissan Leaf, which had 849 sales.
(Source: The New York Times, 11/02/11)
||Holiday Spending on Consumer Electronics Expected to Rise
Consumers plan to spend six percent more on electronics as Christmas gifts this year than last, according to the Consumer Electronics Association's 2011 Holiday Sales and Forecast.
Released at CEA's recent Industry Forum in San Diego, the report found that consumers plan to allocate an average of $246 each on consumer electronics spending this holiday season, compared with last season's average of $232.
Consumers who plan to spend more on CE gifts will shell out an average of $478, while those who plan to spend less will spend an average of $101. CE spending will account for about 30 percent of all holiday spending, said Shawn Dubravac, CEA's chief economist and director of research. CEA analysts expect overall holiday retail sales to increase by 2.5 percent.
"Consumer electronics factor more and more in holiday gifts," said Steve Koenig, CEA's director of industry analysis. "Consumers are saying 'enough is enough.' Consumers are ready to let their hair down, have some fun and buy some products."
Dubravac and Koenig have dubbed this a "Computing Holiday," based on the high percentage of consumers that want a tablet (14 percent) and notebook (11 percent), the two most requested products. TVs come in a distant third (6 percent), followed by e-readers and gaming consoles (5 percent each); MP3 players and DVD/BD discs (3 percent each); and smartphones, digital cameras and desktops (2 percent each). Consumers will also buy more gift cards (80 percent, compared with 76 percent last year) than ever this season.
The analysts did point to some downside risks that could impact holiday spending, including the deadline for Congress's Supercommittee on spending cuts on Nov. 23 and the Dec. 23 deadline vote for both houses on the bill; global contagion in Europe and China; a decrease in pre-holiday shipments in California ports and cutthroat retailing.
The types of stores where consumers plan to shop will not differ much from last year, with 66 percent buying CE gifts from mass merchants (up 3 percent), 59 percent from electronics specialists (down 1 percent) 36 percent from warehouses (down 4 percent) and 47 percent online (up 1 percent).
"Online, make no mistake, is going to be huge," said Koenig, adding that in-store traffic is expected to decrease 4.9 percent from last year.
To increase store traffic, retailers will be offering more same-day in-store pickup, ship-to-store initiatives, bundling and holiday pop-up stores.
There's no doubt that consumers are expecting better Black Friday and holiday deals than they received last year, with many waiting until the last minute for the best price.
"Consumers know that the longer the wait, the better the deal," Dubravac said, adding that retailers have continued to launch "Black Friday" deals much earlier in the season. CEA also predicts that more consumers won't wait for Black Friday to shop and will hit the Internet on Thanksgiving looking for online deals.
"If we look back, we'll be surprised at how much online holiday sales (were conducted) on Thanksgiving Day," Dubravac said.
(Source: Dealerscope, 10/25/11)
Daily Sales Tip: Build Rapport First
Being very excited and motivated about sales, salespeople often want potential clients to know all of the wonderful features, facts and benefits about their company, products and services. This leads many salespeople into presentation mode, or as some refer to it, "pitch mode," when instead, they should launch into a thorough Q&A session that will help them build rapport and gain the potential client's respect.
Leave barraging the client with facts and figures to your competitors. Smart salespeople will ask questions so they can better understand potential client needs. The clients will tell you how they perceive their situation by answering your questions.
After listening, sales reps can then use the client's terms and tone of voice to represent their products or services, and use the client's words to explain how you and your company can best meet their overall needs and objectives.
Source: Dianne Durkin, president of Loyalty Factor