One of my favorite things during the holiday season is the number of stores in our community that go all-out in terms of creating a wonderful, warm, welcoming and often nostalgic shopping environment. I tend to frequent shops that offer something special just for coming in. That something special might be mulled cider to sip while I shop, carolers, holiday give-aways, partnerships with a local non-profit seeking assistance during the holidays or a special discount for bringing in a food item for the local food pantry. Features like that might be especially important this year.
Although there was only a 1.1 percent uptick in retail sales in September, a research firm specializing in the retail industry foresees only a possible 3 percent increase in retail sales this coming holiday season compared to 2010, according to the website Main Street. That projected improvement would be lower than the 4.1 percent retail sales increase in holiday sales nationwide between the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
“The persistently high unemployment and fuel rates along with consumers’ conservative purchasing attitudes will affect spending this holiday season more than in recent years,” says Bill Martin, co-founder of the research firm ShopperTrak, based in Chicago.
With an increasing number of shoppers relying on online connections, the trend in shopping via the keyboard is expected to put a 2.2 percent dent in the number of people shopping in stores from a year ago. This trend will be accentuated by fuel costs and unemployment.
To counter this expected drop in traffic, store owners who want to build relationships with clientele should consider scheduling more in-store special events and themed promotions such as those mentioned above.