Retail Traffic Off To A Good Start In July

If the sun comes out, so will shoppers and their credit cards.

While year-over-year figures have not yet entered positive territory, retail traffic for the first week of July was down just 2.2 percent, a solid improvement over the previous week and a general move in the right direction for consistently sluggish retail traffic over the past few months.

The month of June ended [down] 3.3 percent year-over-year, which was better than May’s [year-over-year decline of] 6.4 percent year-over-year and April’s [decrease of] 4.6 percent year-over-year,” Cowen and Co. analyst Oliver Chen wrote Monday. “July temperatures are forecast to be the warmest in four years across the U.S., which should help retailers attempt to end 2Q clean for fall.”

The improvement in July’s first week was also helped by a Fourth of July shopping boost, Chen noted.

Total U.S. retail visits, year to date, are down 3.9 percent, while total U.S. retail same-store traffic dipped 3.1 percent year over year for the week, according to Citi Research analyst Kate McShane, who referenced data from ShopperTrak’s market intelligence product.

Looking ahead to July’s second week, experts say weather will again play a significant role in overall shopping momentum.

The Northwest will have the third coldest second week of July in 25-plus years but the South will have one of the warmest second weeks of July in 25-plus years,” Chen said, referencing data from Weather Trend International. “Temperatures in the Southwest will be near normal and the Northeast will likely trend slightly warmer than last year. The retail month of July for the U.S. is forecast to trend the warmest in four years and the wettest in three years.”

The next major retail catalyst will be the back-to-school shopping season — revving up in August.

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