Shoppertrak, a private retail tracking service, has reported that
the recent financial meltdown seen over the last few weeks is also dramatically impacting consumer traffic patterns. Highlights include:
In the month (August 3 – 30) containing the back-to-school shopping season, ShopperTrak’s Retail Traffic Index (SRTI) reported total U.S. shopper traffic to retail stores and malls fell 5.3 percent, the slowest since 2002.
Once the financial crisis emerged at the beginning of September, retail traffic declined even further. Between August 31 and September 20, SRTI total U.S. traffic fell an estimated 9.2 percent per day. (see charts below)
After the failure of Washington Mutual, President Bush’s address to the nation, the presidential debate and the initial rejection of the TARP bailout, traffic fell by an average of 10.5 percent (September 21 – 29).
The day the TARP bailout package was rejected by congress (September 29) and the NYSE Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 778 points, consumers again responded negatively as shopper traffic fell 12 percent as compared to the same day in 2007.
This is an ominous sign that the crisis on Wall Street is being transmitted to Main Street via a collapse of consumer confidence. Expect September and October consumer data to be awful.