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ShopperTrak report: Holiday sales increase nearly 22% for week ended Dec. 17

BY Katherine Field Boccaccio

CHICAGO — A report released Wednesday by ShopperTrak found that holiday shoppers boosted sales 21.7% over the previous week and 1.3% over the same week last year.

According to ShopperTrak, sales increases during the week ended Dec. 17 made this December on pace to have higher retail sales than last year. Month-to-date figures are up 0.5% over December 2010.

“December’s retail gains will likely continue all the way through Christmas and the end of Hanukkah,” ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin said. “As the weather gets colder and these important days get closer, retailers should be ready to service customers looking to buy.” Despite the high week-over-week returns, the weekend of Dec. 16-Dec. 18 showed slight year-over-year declines in sales. Super Saturday, the last Saturday with regular shopping hours before Christmas, had a 0.7% sales decline over the same day in 2010 and consumers spent $7.5 billion, compared with $7.55 billion spent last year.

According to ShopperTrak, the additional Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year may have led more shoppers to procrastinate finishing their holiday shopping. Impulse or “add-on” purchases also may  be lower this season, as many of holiday shoppers make purchasing decisions before walking into a store, due to online research and planned shopping outings. Despite weekend sales declines, week-over-week gains continued from the previous week ended Dec. 10, which had a 10.6% increase in sales, and reversed the year-over-year losses for that week.

ShopperTrak expects the upward sales trend to continue.

“This week holds an extra shopping day between Thanksgiving and Christmas compared to past years,” Martin said. “Shoppers will be ready to spend the rest of their holiday budgets. Stores that monitor hourly foot traffic, staff appropriately to the number of shoppers in the store and prepare inventory for additional traffic will be most successful.”

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Bubba Brands introduces Envy tumblers

BY Allison Cerra

SMYRNA, Ga. — Bubba Brands has introduced its Envy tumblers.

The tumblers, which are made of Eastman Tritan material, safeguard hot contents for 3 hours and conserves cold contents for up to 5 hours, the company said.

Bubba Envy tumblers are available in 17-oz. and 24-oz. sizes at Publix stores and on ShopBubba.com.

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Safeway gives thanks for generosity of employees, customers

BY Michael Johnsen

PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway, in a release issued Wednesday, thanked its customers and employees for their generosity for donating food and toys to a number of Safeway Foundation charities this holiday season.

"We deeply appreciate the generosity of our customers and employees, especially at this time when the need is at its greatest," stated Larree Renda, EVP and chair of the Safeway Foundation. "Through the holiday season we hope to lighten the load for those in our communities who are struggling to make ends meet and strengthen the charities that are receiving a record number of requests for assistance."

Central to Safeway’s holiday initiative is the nationwide Help Us End Hunger (Every Bag Counts) food drive — a partnership with Kraft Foods, local media partners and customers to provide food banks with high-quality staples. The products are preselected and bagged, allowing customers to purchase the bag for a discounted price and place it in a donation barrel that goes directly to a local food bank. Kraft Foods is providing a special holiday gift totaling $400,000 in the form of a grant to several food banks in each of Safeway’s U.S. operating divisions. The cash donations will help the food banks provide roughly 2 million meals.

Along with Safeway’s Help Us End Hunger (Every Bag Counts) food drive, there are holiday outreach programs that take on a local flavor, from a sit-down dinner for 5,000 people in Washington, D.C., to one of the nation’s largest toy drives in Texas.

Each of these initiatives relies on the dedication of Safeway employees who volunteer their time with local charities, churches, schools, senior centers and other community organizations during the holidays and throughout the year.

As part of a companywide initiative to encourage and reward volunteerism, Safeway connects employees who want to "give back" with charities and volunteer opportunities. This year, the company’s 180,000 employees contributed a record number of volunteer hours, and still are participating in holiday-focused activities through the end of the year. In the New Year, Safeway will announce the total number of volunteer hours that its workforce contributed in 2011 and will recognize the employees who spent the most time volunteering in their communities.

In addition to these holiday season activities, Safeway raised $46.4 million for a wide array of important causes in 2011. Stores raised and donated $24.4 million for breast cancer and prostate cancer research, continuing the efforts that make Safeway one of the largest corporate supporters of cancer causes.

Campaigns to help people with disabilities raised nearly $21 million. The funds were donated to Easter Seals, Special Olympics, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and other organizations that provide support and services to the people with disabilities.

In addition, for the first time, Safeway held a fundraiser to help injured veterans receive the medical treatment and other support they need. Over the three-day Veterans Day weekend, the company’s U.S. stores raised $1 million for the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that exists to honor and empower "wounded warriors" who incurred service-related injuries on or after Sept. 11, 2001.

Fundraising efforts for worthy causes during the holidays and throughout the year have become part of the company’s culture. Those efforts were recognized when Safeway received the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ 2011 Freeman Philanthropic Services Award for Outstanding Corporation. The award, which was presented earlier this year, honors companies that demonstrate outstanding commitment to important causes through financial support and encouragement, as well as the company’s ability to motivate others to take on leadership roles in their communities.

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