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Retailers look to gift card redemptions to boost 2012 holiday sales

Holiday Sales Watch - Report 3

Holiday Sales Watch - Report 3

The 2012 holiday season started off strong with New York shoppers seeking deals Black Friday weekend, though factors such as Superstorm Sandy and the impending “fiscal cliff” left their mark on week-before-Christmas sales. Overall, members of the Retail Council of New York State awarded the season a “B” letter grade.

Fifty-eight percent of retailers polled by the Retail Council of New York State said their week-before-Christmas sales were better than or the same as their sales during the same week in 2011. After-Christmas sales have been hampered by the Dec. 26/27 snowstorm that affected much of New York state, but many participating merchants remain hopeful that gift card redemptions and a long holiday weekend will give the season a shot in the arm after the snow has been cleared.

Retailers throughout the state reported the results through the Retail Council’s annual “Holiday Sales Watch,” a periodic snapshot of sales activity in stores small and large. This third Holiday Sales Watch was conducted Dec. 27 and gauged retailers’ perceptions of sales activity the week before and just after Christmas. This report concludes the Council’s assessment of the holiday season.

When asked what impacted their holiday sales, survey participants indicated the fiscal cliff debate (29 percent) topped their list, followed by Superstorm Sandy (19 percent) and the Connecticut school tragedy (18 percent).

“All the tragedy that hit the [NYC] Metropolitan area had a major effect on how people shopped this year,” one survey participant noted when commenting on what impacted sales this season. Another respondent credited “Smart, experienced sales staff,” who helped make their 2012 holiday season a success.

Some members noted packed parking lots and busy stores didn’t equate to additional sales in the crucial days before Christmas. Others reported Saturday, Dec. 22 was their largest sales day of the season. These merchants saw an increase over Black Friday volumes. Jewelry and gift card sales spiked in the final days as men turned out to shop in earnest.

“Shoppers were clearly on a mission and showing a sense of urgency the last 10 days,” one member said.

“Many factors contributed to the roller coaster ride that made the 2012 holiday season unpredictable for our members,” said Retail Council President and Chief Executive Officer James R. Sherin. “Many merchants still saw a modest increase in sales and look forward to one last weekend of 2012 to boost their season.”

Hot Sellers for Kids - 2012 Holiday Season

For Girls:         Barbie, Dolls (generic), Furby, Monster High Dolls, Disney Princess, American Girl, Video Games, Dora the Explorer, Apple iPad

For Boys:         LEGO, Video Games, Hot Wheels, Cars (generic), Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii U, Transformers, Remote Controlled Vehicles, Furby, Trucks (generic)

About the Retail Council of New York State:

The “Voice of Retailing” in New York state, the Retail Council represents thousands of member stores of all sort and size. The Retail Council offers money-saving group benefit programs and government relations expertise to its members. For more information, please visit www.retailcouncilnys.com or Facebook.com/RetailCouncilNYS.

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