Retail Traffic Dips In Mid-September

The latest reports detailing retail performance for the third week of September show significant post-Labor Day traffic declines, due in part by the continued summer heat and humidity, some experts say.

Citi Research analyst Kate McShane and Cowen & Co.’s retail team reported Monday that retail traffic in week three of September dived nearly 7 percent, while the previous week “favorably benefited from the Labor Day holiday shift,” Cowen’s report noted.

“Lingering warm weather — especially in Northeast and Midwest — is likely subduing strong fall apparel demand, but September [month-to-date is] still healthy at [down] 3 percent year-over-year, versus August’s [decline of] 2.7 percent and July’s [decrease] of 4.9 percent,” the Cowen report stated.

All four U.S. regions saw traffic decelerate from the prior week’s growth rate of 2.3 percent, and the trend of slumping traffic is expected to continue into week four, with a decline of 5 percent to 7 percent forecasted — the Cowen note explained.

Although the retail environment has been uneven in recent months, experts say many of footwear’s biggest players have posted large gains despite the volatility.

In a Sept. 21 back-to-school sales roundup, Sterne Agee CRT analyst Sam Poser said Foot Locker Inc., Dick’s Sporting Goods, Shoe Carnival, Caleres’ Famous Footwear and DSW Inc.’s businesses “have all improved since mid-August,” while “momentum at Under Armour, Skechers and Brand Jordan remained strong.”

“In total, back-to-school footwear sales increased 4.8 percent — slightly ahead of sales for the month of August, which increased 4.5 percent,” Poser wrote. “The increase in sales during back-to-school was driven by casual-athletic and running, which increased 18.6 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively.”

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