The first week of September has brought with it another bout of sluggish retail traffic — a trend that continues to disappoint many brick-and-mortar retailers who had hoped for a more robust back-to-school season this time around.
According to Citi Research analyst Kate McShane, who references data from ShopperTrak’s Market Intelligence product, total U.S. retail visits were down 6.04 percent year-over-year in September’s first week. Those results were worse than last year’s decline of 4.25 percent and below expert estimates.
Total U.S. retail same-store traffic for week was also negative — dipping 4.15 percent — but fared better than the previous year, which saw same-store traffic slip 7.44 percent.
Year-to-date, total U.S. retail visits are down 4.13 percent.
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Turbulent weather and panic-inducing forecasts are likely to blame for last week’s traffic slowdown, McShane suggests. Forecasts for tropical storm Hermine to hit parts of the Northeast didn’t materialize, but storm threats severely hurt retail traffic in New Jersey last week.
“For the U.S. as a whole, hotter weather gave way to cooler trends later in the week, and it was the coolest start to September in six years but still above normal,” McShane added.
Cowen and Co. analyst John Kernan said the Labor Day holiday should boost the current week’s traffic numbers. However, warmer temperatures could have an offsetting effect in some parts of the country.
Meanwhile, another Cowen analyst, Oliver Chen, said Wednesday that he’s watching a few hot fall trends that could drive generate some excitement around retail — among them, a retro casual athletic trend led by Adidas.
“The influence of the ‘80s continues to resonate throughout retail, with Adidas leading the way,” Chen writes. “Retro styles in casual running, basketball, as well as apparel are evident across not only sporting goods but also throughout the department store channel.”
Chen added that the Adidas Stan Smith and Superstar offerings are “the hottest trends in retro footwear from a fashion perspective,” and that New York Fashion Week is seeing lots of track suits on the runways, solidifying the importance of ’80s retro influences.
“Nike and Under Armour also continue to capitalize on this trend,” Chen noted. “While athleisure has gained significant floor space within brick-and-mortar retail and remains one of the more powerful trends in retail, the space gains relative to other categories have flattened, and it now becomes more about share gain — where Adidas is leading the pack.”