Retail Traffic Better Overall In July

After several months of considerable declines in traffic across retail, the month of July offered some relief.

While traffic is far from booming — it has yet to return to positive territory — the month of July saw an overall traffic decline of 2.4 percent year-over-year, better than June’s dip of 3.3 percent and May’s 6.4 percent drop, according to Cowen & Co. analyst Oliver Chen.

Total U.S. retail visits were down 3.2 percent in the last week of the month, compared with a decline of 9.4 percent last year, noted Citi Research analyst Kate McShane. Meanwhile, total U.S. retail same-store traffic was down 5.2 percent for the week, versus a decline of 8.9 percent last year. (Last year’s fourth-week traffic was likely affected by a shift in tax holidays to August, McShane noted.)

Overall, total U.S. retail visits are down 3.7 percent year-to-date.

The drop-off in store visits — stoked by consumer shifts to e-commerce and weather trends — are expected to continue into the foreseeable future, experts say.

For first week of August, McShane forecast that retail visits could decline as much as 3 percent, while Chen predicts the slide could be as much as 4 percent.

“The hotter temps year-over-year will continue this week across the U.S., especially in the central U.S., which should be positive for summer clearance, but it may hinder early back-to-school/fall apparel sales,” Chen wrote on Aug. 1.

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