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TIBCO Spotfire's Business Intelligence Blog


The Data Analysis of Holiday Shopping Surveys

For retailers that want to know who bought what when this holiday season, in part, to get a jump on planning next year’s marketing campaigns, cutting through all the available information that’s out there can be daunting.

shutterstock 113119618 300x220 The Data Analysis of Holiday Shopping SurveysThere are any number of forecasts, estimates and surveys, not to mention anecdotal evidence, to help retailers make sense of all that data – but some are better than others, according to a recent Reuters article.

For one thing, experts say those doing the data analysis should – although not all do – measure or forecast sales over the three-month period from November to the end of January, not just the weeks from Thanksgiving until Christmas.

“That way, timing impacts are reduced,” the article notes. “This year, for example, the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day is only 26 days against 32 days last year, and the increasing popularity of gift cards is also taken into account, as those sales usually occur in January, after the holidays. (Gift card sales are only measured by retailers when spent, not when they are first purchased.)”

The data should also be as comprehensive as possible. And sales of gasoline sales, which varies depending on price, automobiles, and probably food as well should not be included in the data that’s captured.

Here are some key forecasts and surveys from prominent organizations that aggregate and analyze the data to help retailers understand the present so they can plan for the future:

National Retail Federation: The holiday sales estimates from the NRF cover November and December for all retailers except those that sell gasoline and auto parts. Restaurants are also excluded as are sales of gift cards.

The NRF estimate calls for a 3.9% year-over-year growth to $602.1 billion from $579.5 billion in 2012. NRF also surveys consumers to estimate average per-person spending. This year, it expects a 2% decline to $737.95 from $752 in 2012.

The reason for the discrepancy: “people may say and do two different things,” according to the NRF.

Deloitte: The consulting firm forecasts a 4% to 4.5% increase in sales, or $963 billion to $967 billion, for the November to January sales period. Deloitte’s forecast doesn’t include sales of motor vehicles or gasoline but it does include food service.

Additionally, Deloitte predicts online sales will increase 12.5% to 13% this holiday season. And the firm predicts consumers will spend more on holiday gifts this year than they did last year. Average per-person spending will be $421 this year, up from $386 last year, according to Deloitte.

Thomson Reuters Same-Store Sales: Thomson Reuters expects same-store sales for November-January to increase 1.7%, up from 1.6% in 2012, but not quite reaching 3%, which is what Thomson Reuters considers a healthy growth rate.

Thomson Reuters tracks 75 different store chains, and uses analyst estimates to arrive at the overall estimate of these discounters, department stores and specialty drug stores, but not car dealers.

U.S. Monthly Retail Sales Figures: The Census Bureau puts out figures on retail sales for each month in the middle of the succeeding month (i.e., November’s figures will be out on December 12).

According to the data, November retail sales are expected to have risen 0.3%, but taking sales of vehicles out of the equation, sales are expected to have risen by 0.2%.

ShopperTrak: This retail technology firm measures traffic in retail stores in 90 different countries to report on weekly sales figures.

Its retail sales estimate for the US doesn’t include motor vehicles and parts, building materials, food and beverage stores, health and personal care stores, miscellaneous store retailers and electronic and mail-order purchases.

In November, ShopperTrak forecast that 10% fewer shoppers in the US would visit bricks-and-mortar stores in November and December than in 2012. Additionally, it expects traffic in electronics and appliance stores to decrease by 11.5% compared to 2012.

MasterCard SpendingPulse: This monthly report on national retail sales is based on “aggregate sales activity in the MasterCard payments network,” as well as estimates for other types of payments, including cash and checks.

SpendingPulse forecasts that December 21, the last Saturday before Christmas, will be the biggest shopping day for jewelry and other luxury retailers. Last year, sales on the Saturday before Christmas accounted for 8% of jewelry sales, more than double any other day during the holiday season.

Next Steps:

  • To help you get the most out of your online store this holiday season, we invite you to watch our complimentary on-demand webcast: “Gain Insight into Your Brand’s Online Retail Shelf Space.” In our webcast, you’ll learn how Catalyst combines its proprietary eShelf Engine technology with Spotfire analytics and interactive visualizations to deliver deep insights to the competitive positioning of your products on online retail shelves.
  • Subscribe to our blog to stay up to date on the latest insights and trends in data analysis and retail.

Linda Rosencrance
Spotfire Blogging Team



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