Levin Survey: Holiday Retail Traffic Expected Sooner This Year

Retail property operators and managers will have their hands full this holiday season, and it will happen sooner rather than later.
Photo: flickr user  Steven Depolo

Photo: flickr user Steven Depolo

Retail property operators and managers will have their hands full this holiday season, and it will happen sooner rather than later.

Retail real estate services firm Levin Management, having queried store managers within its 90-property, 12.5 million-square-foot shopping center portfolio for its annual pre-holiday retail sentiment survey, has found that the magic is expected to take place in advance of and during the Thanksgiving/Black Friday weekend sales window.

With Thanksgiving falling on November 28, the shopping period between Black Friday and Christmas Day will be six days shorter than it was last year, but survey participants are undaunted by the reduction in the length of the shopping season.

“It appears that last year’s Thanksgiving/Black Friday weekend performance has retailers bullish about this year’s early shopping potential,” Levin Management’s Matthew Harding, president of Levin Management, said in a prepared statement. A notable 43.3 percent of respondents pinpointed the days surrounding Thanksgiving–the days before Thanksgiving and the Thanksgiving/Black Friday weekend–as the projected sales peak. More specifically, 29.8 percent anticipate Thanksgiving/Black Friday weekend will bring in the most sales, compared to the mere 15.3 percent that had pinned their highest hopes on that three-day weekend period in 2012.

Respondents’ expectations may very well be fulfilled. According a poll completed earlier this month by the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs, a whopping 46 percent plan to shop on Black Friday and a noteworthy 13 percent will whip out their cash and credit cards on Thanksgiving Day. As commercial real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle notes in a recent report, for the first time ever, Macy’s and JCPenney will open on Thanksgiving, and other retailers will follow their lead.

Matthew Harding, of Levin

Matthew Harding, of Levin

So Thanksgiving is forecasted to reign supreme in the stores. Only 13.5 percent of respondents foresee the greatest activity taking place the weekend before Christmas, marking a substantial decrease from the 29.2 percent who had predicted a peak during that time last year.

And store managers will need every bit of their square footage of storage, as they expect patrons to do a healthy amount of shopping this year, and they’re preparing for it.

A notable 77.5 percent of survey participants revealed that they will hold the same holiday-period inventory as last year or increase it. But it won’t be just the shopping public and inventory that will take up space in stores this holiday season. In the Levin Management survey, the percentage of managers who indicated that they will add seasonal employees more than doubled, leaping from 18.4 percent in 2012 to 33.3 percent this year.