Retailers Don't See the 'Super' in Super Saturday
Nowhere was the traffic void this weekend more evident than the Saks flagship store in New York City, with sales down 20 percent.
Just Wednesday I warned on CNBC's "Street Signs," business at Saks seemed particularly slow going into holiday. The level of markdown inventory the week before Super Saturday told the story, as did the ability to hear a pin drop during a 60 percent off sale. Sales associates are simply at a loss to explain why the customer has not shown up. Some are telling me this is the worst they have seen during their career with the company.
Everyone is looking for an explanation. First, it was super storm Sandy, then it was the "fiscal cliff," and now the nation mourns for Newtown, Conn. Maybe it is all just too much.
By the way, I am not picking on Saks — the luxury retailer has plenty of company.
Shoppers seem to be: a) procrastinating more this year; or b) are just not in the mood. I am going with "b." We Might try to convince ourselves that more consumers are doing all of their shopping online? Sure, free shipping and the much-improved mobile shopping experience is driving more business out of brick-and-mortar stores, but lets be realistic here. So far, the statistics point to a mid-teen increase in online shopping and the cut-off date for most orders was Dec. 22. This is not going to make up the traffic declines we are observing in stores.
There is a lot riding on the final weekend before Christmas and maybe more than usual this year. Saturday was supposed to be the biggest shopping day ever. At least, that is what a lot of statistic trackers and retailers were hoping for, because the weeks leading up to the final stretch have been disappointing. Just last week, ShopperTrak announced the somewhat obvious observation that traffic and sales declined year-over-year for the week ended Dec 15. Traffic was down 4.4 percent and sales declined 4.3 percent, which led the company to cut its forecast for U.S. holiday sales to 2.5 percent from the previous 3.3 percent estimate.
I am pretty confident the chopping block will have to come out again.