64.2% of retail store managers believe their sales volume was the same or higher at mid-year than at the same point last year, according to [pdf] July survey findings from Levin Management. This is a significant uptick from mid-year 2011, when just half believed their sales volume was either steady of up from the previous year.
Store managers paint a similarly bright picture with regards to customer traffic: 62.9% of respondents said traffic at mid-year was the same or higher than at the same point in 2011, compared to 36.9% who said that fewer consumers were visiting their stores. At mid-year 2011, only 50.4% of respondents reported the same or higher traffic.
Most Display A Cautious Optimism
Data from the “Retail Store Manager Sentiment Survey” indicates that more than 9 in 10 respondents feel that the second half of 2012 will see sales remain at the same level or improve over 2011, with just 8.5% expecting sales to decrease. Fully 28.1% reported higher inventory levels than at the same point in 2011.
That optimism does not mean that retailers are returning to pre-recession pricing, though. Promotional pricing and markdowns continue to be key to overall retail marketing, and 43.1% of respondents said that these strategies are even more important today than a year ago.
Internet Impact Is Generally Neutral Or Positive
The majority of retail managers (60.6%) reported no effect on sales from the internet, while 26.8% said the internet is a positive influence. Only 12.5% said that e-commerce is having a negative impact on store sales, with these respondents tending to be retailers selling expensive commodity items (e.g., large screen TVs). The report speculates that internet and mobile marketing are driving traffic to brick-and-mortar stores.
Retail sites seem to be enjoying the same positive trajectory as reported by store managers. Retail site categories accounted for 4 of the 10 top-gaining web categories by percentage change in May 2012, as Americans shopped for Mother’s Day and later prepared for Memorial Day barbeques, according to comScore Media Metrix data.
- 52.3% of the store managers surveyed by Levin Management feel that the economy’s impact on sales has been negative, while 11.9% see its impact as positive, and 35.7% are unsure.
- Retail employment growth has been modest, but 26.2% of survey respondents reported increasing staff since the beginning of the year, and 36.1% expect to hire more employees in the next 6 months. These figures are up from last year’s 12.6% and 26.7%, respectively.
- Slightly more than one-quarter of respondents indicated that their companies will open more stores this year, up from 19% in 2011.
- Most respondents pointed to the economy (65.9%) as impacting their store traffic, with fewer pointing to unseasonable warmth (21%) and gasoline prices (13%).
About The Data: The Levin Management data is based on survey responses from approximately 250 store managers at more than 100 retail properties operated by Levin Management. Neither the properties nor the stores were identified in any way on the survey forms.