Retailers Forgot the “Super” in Super Saturday
Nowhere was the traffic void this weekend more evident than the Saks Flagship store in NYC (~20% company sales). Just Wednesday I warned on Street Signs “Battle of the Retailers” Battle of Retailers business at Saks seemed particularly slow going into holiday. The level of markdown inventory the week before Super Saturday told the story and so did the ability to hear a pin drop during a 60% off sale. Sales associates are simply at a loss to explain why the customer has not shown up. Some are telling me this is the worst they have seen during their career with the company. They are all looking for an explanation. First, it was Sandy then it was the Fiscal Cliff and now the nation mourns for Newtown. Maybe it is all just too much. And by the way, I am not picking on Saks, the luxury retailer has plenty of company.
Blame it on warm weather,the fiscal cliff or a nation in mourning but shoppers seem to be a.)procrastinating more this year or b).not in the mood. I am going with choice B. We could always try to fool ourselves and hope consumers are doing all of their shopping on the internet? Sure, free shipping and the much improved mobile shopping experience is driving more business out of stores but lets be realistic here. So far, the stats point to a mid teen increase in online shopping and the cut off date for most orders was 12/22. This is not going to make up the traffic declines we are observing in stores.
There is a lot riding on the final weekend before Christmas and maybe more than usual this year. Saturday was supposed to be the biggest shopping day EVER. Well that is what a lot of the statistic trackers and retailers were hoping for because the weeks leading up to the final stretch have been disappointing. Just last week ShopperTrak announced the somewhat obvious observation that traffic and sales declined year over year for the week ended Dec 15. Traffic was down 4.4% while sales declined 4.3% which led the company to revise down holiday to 2.5% from the previous 3.3% estimate. I am pretty confident the chopping block will have to come out again.