A cooler start to spring and mixed-bag of Memorial Day weekend weather in the Northeast may have contributed to less than expected year-to-date sales and traffic for some retailers.
But a brisk hiring pace and the positive impact of e-commerce appear to be heating things up in time for summer, according to a survey of Levin Management’s 90-property, 12.5 million-square-foot shopping center portfolio.
The retail real estate services firm serves properties ranging from neighborhood, community, lifestyle and power centers, to enclosed malls, downtown stores and mixed-use projects in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina.
In a poll of store managers, conducted in late May and early June, only 43.7 percent of respondents reported year-to-date sales at the same or a higher level than last year at this time, and only 39.3 percent said traffic is at the same or a higher level.
This is down from 64.2 percent reporting the same or higher year-over-year sales in the 2012 mid-year survey and from 62.9 percent reporting the same or higher year-over-year traffic.
Similarly, only 37.5 percent said their Memorial Day sales were the same or higher than last year, dropping from 59.4 percent in the 2012 survey.
The findings counter the U.S. Census Bureau’s June 13 report that nationwide retail and food services sales for March through May 2013 were up 3.7 percent year-over-year, and May sales were up 4.3 percent year-over-year. The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) reported that U.S. chain-store sales were 3.2 percent higher in May 2013 as compared to May 2012.
Yet retailer optimism within the Levin sample has waned somewhat. 34.5 percent of respondents said they expect sales to improve through the remainder of 2013 (compared to 48.5 percent last year). 25.3 percent expect status quo in terms of sales performance (compared to 42.9 percent last year). 28.7 percent are concerned that sales will decrease (compared to 8.5 percent last year).11.5 percent are uncertain.
“Coming off a positive year in 2012, retailers were predicting that 2013 would maintain a strong pace,” noted Matthew K. Harding, Levin Management’s president.
“It looks like performance for many of our survey participants came in below expectations, and they have become more cautious in terms of expectations. The good news is nationwide retail performance has been steady, and with continued improvement in the economy and consumer confidence, retailer optimism is likely to increase in our region through the balance of the year.”