Levin 2011 Post-Holiday Survey Finds Steady Retail Sales Improvement

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  • New York, NY (1888PressRelease) February 01, 2012 - Strong seasonal sales volume and higher 2011 holiday consumer traffic support a general feeling of optimism within the retail community, according to the latest survey from Levin Management Corporation of North Plainfield. The retail real estate services firm polled store managers within its 12.5 million-square-foot shopping center portfolio centered in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. The results point to slow, but steady, progress for the industry.

    Levin conducts both a pre-holiday survey to track retailer expectations, and a post-holiday survey to track actual performance. In the post-holiday 2011 survey, nearly three-quarters of respondents - 73.1 percent - reported year-over-year seasonal sales at the same or better levels than in 2010. Approximately 80 percent of respondents in the pre-holiday survey expected the same or better sales than in 2010.

    The 2011 post-holiday survey results suggest that improved sales may tie directly to an increase in consumer traffic at retail stores. A full 71.2 percent of survey respondents reported that their traffic was the same or better compared to 2010.

    "We can conclude from our tenants' 2011 holiday season sales and traffic that consumers are feeling more enthusiastic about the economy and are again beginning to spend money," noted Matthew Harding, Levin's president and chief operating officer. "While things clearly remain unsettled, this is very good news."

    Additionally, this stronger overall holiday season appears to have made a significant impact on annual sales volume, according to Harding. Before the holidays, only 28.4 percent of survey respondents indicated that they were having a better year than 2010. That number jumped to 32.7 percent in the post-holiday survey. Additionally, the percentage of pre-holiday respondents that reported they were having a worse year in 2011 vs. 2010 shrunk considerably in the post-holiday survey, dropping from 44.1 percent to 39.8 percent.

    Jobs Become Permanent

    Approximately 30 percent of Levin's 2011 post-holiday respondents reported adding seasonal staff, and 54.7 percent of those respondents indicated plans to retain their temporary hires. "This shows that a positive holiday season has fostered confidence that the economic climate is improving," Harding said. "Jobs growth is a critical indicator."

    Likewise, a general feeling of optimism is paving the way for further progress. A full 65.1 percent of 2011 post-holiday respondents noted that they are feeling optimistic about the coming year. Only 5.8 percent were pessimistic. The balance is unsure or believes that 2012 will be similar to 2011.

    A Year-Over-Year Comparison

    Harding noted that the progress reflected in Levin's 2011 holiday survey takes on even more significance when compared to its past surveys. "Since 2009 we have traced a positive year-over-year holiday sales trend," he said. There has been steady improvement over the last three years with a significant improvement during the 2011 holiday season.*

    "A vast majority of our 2011 survey respondents feel good about the direction their industry is headed, and so do we," Harding said. "The numbers support this positive outlook. Moving forward, we see a generational push toward value. People unquestionably are going to be 'shopping smart.' But they are going to be shopping. 2011 was a much healthier year for retail than we have seen in some time, and we fully anticipate continued progress in the near term.

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