It Was a Disappointing Weekend For Brick-and-Mortar Retailers
BY Abigail Tracy
In-store sales for the final weekend before Christmas were down compared to last year, but gift returns ultimately will determine how successful the season has been.
The last weekend before Christmas proved to be a disappointment for brick-and-mortar retailers. Consumers shopped in stores less the weekend of December 20, 21, and 22 than the same weekend of 2012--even despite greater discounts leading up to Christmas, Reuters reported.
RetailNext, a San Jose, California-based analytics company, found that brick-and-mortar sales dropped by a mid-single-digit percentage on Friday and Saturday compared to retail sales for the same days in 2012. Store visits in general dropped by 7 percent, Reuters reported.
The outlet reported it is likely that retail sales will pick up following the holiday, however, when discounts peak.
The figures from RetailNext do not include online sales. Online retailers have fared a little better this season than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. But even for online retailers--who saw massive sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday--it remains to be seen whether the 2013 holiday season will have been a success. For them, it all depends on returns.
According to The Wall Street Journal, returns continue to be a growing cost for online retailers--especially during the holidays when sales surge. Kurt Salmon, a global retail consultancy, told the Journal that about one-third of all items sold online get returned. The outlet reported that UPS expects returns to jump a whopping 15 percent this season from last.
Retailers have begun collecting data on consumers' return history to prevent buyer’s remorse, the Journal reported. Some have created features on their websites that make suggestions about sizing based on a customer's previous returns, for example.