By Christine Kern: Integrated Solutions for Retailers
Shoppers finally headed back into the stores in April, sending store traffic up 11.9 percent year over year and 5.6 percent month over month, according to Euclid Analytics’ April in-store shopping report, but the news was not all positive.
Though store traffic was up, spending on general merchandise, apparel, furniture, and other (GAFO) retail sales decreased by 1.1 percent last month. Clothing and accessories sales fell 2.1 percent and general merchandise sales fell 1.6 percent, according to the report.
The report also found that storefront conversion (the number of shoppers who enter a store as a percentage of total foot traffic) increased less than 1 percent year over year, from 8.9 percent last year, and 9 percent in March, to 9.5 percent in April. The bounce rate — percentage of shoppers leaving a store within five minutes of entering — was 6 percent in April, better than last year's 9.8 percent and March’s 6.5 percent.
And visit duration also increased 18 percent year-over-year, improving from 24.5 minute last year to 29.9 minutes in April, but this was also a decline form 30.5 in March of this year. Despite the negative indicators in this report, experts predict that spending will catch up in the next several months as the economy rebounds.
Euclid also credits the improvements in physical sales in April to Easter and promotional activity, which is not necessarily good news for retailers.
The report highlights the continued caution of consumers when it comes to retail spending, even despite improving employment and an overall improving economy. Euclid’s findings also affirm the recent insights provided by researchers at MasterCard Advisors, who found that consumers are now spending more to eat out and travel, and are being more judicious about purchases even as they are splurging on more big ticket items. The MasterCard research demonstrated that consumers are willing to spend good money, but want good value and don’t want to carry balances on their credit cards, leading them to deliberate more carefully before making final purchase decisions.