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Store Traffic Down by Double Digits for Holiday 2016

Store foot traffic and sales in the U.S. both fell significantly during the all-important Holiday 2016 selling season, according to analytics firm Retail Next.

December store traffic fell by 13.4% which, combined with November’s 10.2% drop, resulted in a holiday season traffic decline of 12.3%, and the continuation of a more than two-year-long trend in the measure as consumers increasingly go online for more of their shopping.

The one bright stop in the season was the almost 5 percent improvement in average transaction value.

Shoppers who did choose to visit stores ended up spending more than in the prior year period. The biggest increase in transaction value occurred in the Northeast, though transaction value decreased in the Midwest.

The increase in overall average transaction value did not offset the lower foot traffic, however. Totals sales at brick-and-mortar stores suffered a double-digit drop, falling by 10.7% in the month, worse than November’s 8.1% dip, and the biggest monthly decline in nearly a year and a half. The sales decline was biggest in the Midwest and smallest in the West.

Not surprisingly, sales, traffic and transactions peaked on Friday, Dec. 23, while conversions were highest on Saturday Dec. 24 (Christmas Eve), the day that shoppers will buy just about anything. The low days of the month occurred on Tuesday, Nov.29, the day after Cyber Monday.

December 2016 was also the coldest December in the U.S. since 2013. Many regions of the country had much colder temperatures than last year, which had some effect on traffic.