A December 27 Chicago Tribune article is reporting that the number of shopping mall visitors in the US the day-after-Christmas declined by 19% from 2007. This analysis is based on visits to 26 malls nationwide by NPD Market Research. These results are preliminary with more comprehensive figures expected Wednesday, December 31st when Shoppertrak reports total US mall foot traffic and on January 8th when major chain stores are expected to report December sales. With the exception of a few retailers, expectations aren’t very high.
The bright spot this season is likely to be that online sales increased in some regions because difficult winter weather conditions kept shoppers in and away from malls. Amazon is reporting that this was its best holiday season ever.
What this news means for consumers
Consumers are experiencing a retail buyer’s market like none in recent memory but because of economic concerns and realities, fewer shoppers are in the market for after Christmas bargains. In an effort to attract those who are, retailers are offering discounts not normally seen until January or later.
As outlined in After Christmas Shopping posted on 12.18.2008, this is the perfect time to get a jump start on next year’s shopping. Based on the way the 2008 shopping season is shaping up, several questions will welcome retailers to the economic reality of 2009. Those questions will center on how to keep current customers and attract new ones. They will also be focused on offering better service and creating a better customer experience where and when it’s possible. This has begun to take shape as we leave 2008.
The customer will be queen and king in 2009, but there’s likely to be some scaling back of merchandise available for sale, and for that matter, fewer retailers to sell it. My hope is that we will all continue to do our part to stimulate the economy where we can and where it makes sense for each of us to do so.
Best Economic Wishes in 2009!