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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2711 - January 05, 2012 - ISSN 1539-5065    4 of 4

Brick and Mortar Retailers Experience Holiday Sales Decline

By Ina Steiner
January 05, 2012

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Holiday shopping ended disappointingly for specialty brick-and-mortar store chains in 2011 thanks to a significant drop in traffic compared to last year, according to RetailNext. The retail business intelligence provider said even some encouraging post-Christmas spikes failed to make up the gap compared to last year's holiday season.

The company's RetailNext Insights: Holiday Shopping 2011 report analyzes the performance of more than 40 U.S. retail store chains (apparel, accessories, jewelry and watches, home and office, audio and technology, travel and health, and fitness as well as U.S. airport stores), and examines the in-store behaviors of more than 20 million shoppers between Thanksgiving weekend and December 31, 2011.

RetailNext said overall December traffic in specialty stores was down 4% over 2010. A flat conversion rate left sales down 5% year over year.

The top converting days in December were the 15th and the three days before Christmas. Strong performance on the 15th appears to have been driven by retailers running sales, as evidenced by a 5% drop in average transaction value on that day.

December 24th landing on a Saturday was a challenge for specialty retailers, but a somewhat strong December 23 managed to close some of the gap.

The three-day after-Christmas period showed a 5% traffic increase for specialty stores, compared to last year, but only a 1% increase in sales, due to lower conversion rates.

Shelley E. Kohan, vice president of retail consulting at RetailNext, said, "The downturn in traffic, combined with a flat overall conversion rate, suggests that shoppers came to the store better researched than in previous years and looking for specific values."

The lesson for next year? According to the report, "The first two Sundays of December represent a big opportunity for specialty retailers in 2012, as they were high traffic days with low conversion rates - both in 2011 and 2010."

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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