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Report from ShopperTrak sees holiday retail sales rise 4.5 percent

BY Adam Kraemer

CHICAGO ShopperTrak RCT’s National Retail Sales Estimate today reported that retail sales for the November-December 2007 holiday season increased by a better-than-expected 4.5 percent as compared to last year, surpassing both the company’s 3.6 percent holiday season forecast and predictions of gloom by industry experts.

The report has Black Friday—the day after Thanksgiving—once again leading the way with $10.3 billion spent, followed closely by $9.36 billion spent the last Saturday before Christmas. Dec. 15, Dec.21 and Dec. 23 rounded out the top five retail sales days of 2007.

Total U.S. foot traffic for the 2007 holiday season slipped 2.7 percent, pointing to consumers visiting retail locations less but spending more on each visit. On a monthly basis, however, November posted a 5.8 percent rise, which was countered by December traffic falling 4.7 percent as compared to the same period in 2006.

“The holiday 2007 retail sales performance overwhelmingly proves the U.S. consumer is resilient,” noted Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak. “Based on stagnant traffic and various economic concerns retailers were understandably a bit nervous heading into the season, but the strength of Black Friday weekend added to the shopping surge experienced on Super Saturday helped sales exceed our expectations.”

In addition, sales and traffic for the week ending January 5, 2008 rose a healthy 15.5 and 10.1 percent, respectively, as compared to last year, bolstering predictions of increased sales from gift cards following the holiday. Retailers do not count the card sales at the time of purchase, but rather, at the time of redemption.

Developed by ShopperTrak, the NRSE provides a nationwide benchmark of retail sales. It is derived from the Commerce Department’s statistics on general merchandise, apparel, furniture, sporting goods, electronics, hobby, books and other related store sales, as well as ShopperTrak’s proprietary industry intelligence on shopper traffic and sales statistics.

For more information, visit www.shoppertrak.com.

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IRI study shows half of consumers consider environmental issues when shopping

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO Approximately 50 percent of U.S. consumers consider at least one “green” factor in selecting consumer packaged goods items and choosing where to shop for those products, according to a recently released survey conducted by Information Resources, Inc.

The 22,000 U.S. consumers surveyed were asked to determine the impact of four key sustainability features in their product and store selection—organic, eco-friendly products, eco-friendly packaging and fair treatment of employees and suppliers. One-fifth of those surveyed were determined to be “sustainability driven,” taking at least two sustainability factors into account when making their selections.

“Sustainability has evolved from a niche segment concern to a major factor influencing purchasing and shopping behavior across a sizable consumer base,” stated Andrew Salzman, IRI chief marketing officer. “Our survey indicates that consumers are focused more and more on the social and environmental impact of their CPG purchases, creating a viable and growing U.S. market for sustainable products and packaging with the potential to mirror well-developed markets in Europe and Japan. U.S. retailers and manufacturers are beginning to respond to that demand,” he said.

“Consumers aged 55 and older are the real driving force behind this expansion,” Salzman added. “Generally, with the time to seek out specialty items and the resources to afford premium priced products, aging consumers are a critical target market today. As sustainable products and packaging become more widely available, we anticipate that the market will expand across consumer segments.”

Among the IRI results highlighting the evolution of sustainability factors in consumer decision-making:

  • Approximately 30 percent look for eco-friendly products and packaging in their brand selection;
  • Up to one-quarter of those surveyed consider fair trade practices along with eco-friendly or organic designations in selecting a shopping destination;
  • Nearly 40 percent of consumers search specifically for organic products

“Currently, organic products are scoring extremely well with consumers,” says Salzman. “Benefiting from the winning combination of a ‘better for you’ association and a ‘better for the environment’ attribute, the organic designation has moved to the front of consumer consciousness.”

Once dominated by niche manufacturers and specialty retailers, CPG industry leaders now maintain a sizable stake in the organics market and with leading retailers. This includes Safeway and Kroger with their highly successful organic private label lines. Several leading manufacturers are also beginning to offer organic versions of favorite products, such as Kraft’s organic Wheat Thins and Chips Ahoy.

Among non-food items, the IRI study highlights replacement of chemical-based items with eco-friendly products as an emerging sustainability category. One example is green laundry detergent. Though currently just 2 percent of the total detergent market, the growing demand for biodegradable, non-toxic and plant-based products is reflected in a 66 percent increase in green product sales during the past year within a category that has overall flat sales.

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Kimberly-Clark calls new Cottonelle campaign its largest non-traditional marketing drive ever

BY Tara Smith

DALLAS Kimberly-Clark Corp. on Monday announced it is launching the largest non-traditional marketing campaign in its history to help drive further growth for its Cottonelle brand.

The campaign, “Be Kind to Your Behind,” debuts this month and integrates experiential marketing, branded Web sites, Internet advertising, bus and train station ads, in-store promotions, redesigned product packaging and public relations activities, as well as traditional TV and print advertising. In addition, the campaign will use the iconic Cottonelle puppy across all communications channels to embody the brand’s key benefits of soft, soothing comfort.

The campaign kicked off Monday in the United States and Canada and in March the company will roll out the Cottonelle Comfort Haven. The Haven features a puppy-themed bus that will travel to major metropolitan cities across North America with four themed comfort areas offering consumers access to massages, yoga and a sweepstakes promotion. Kimberly-Clark plans to launch the “Be Kind to Your Behind” campaign throughout Europe in the summer of 2008 under multiple brands, also using the iconic puppy.

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