Business appears to be improving, according to a survey by Levin Management Corp. The firm conducted the study among its retail tenants in 90 properties.
The mid-year survey, which polled 250 retailers, indicated positive changes year-over-year. At mid-year 2012, 64.2% of respondents reported the same or higher sales volume compared with this time last year; 35.7% reported lower sales. At mid-year 2011, 50.1% of respondents reported the same or higher sales; 49.8% reported lower sales.
At mid-year 2012, 62.9% of respondents said traffic is the same or higher than at this time last year; 36.9% said that fewer consumers are visiting their stores. At mid-year 2011, only 50.4% of respondents reported the same or higher traffic; 49.4% said that traffic was slower.
“This is real, tangible progress,” said Matthew K. Harding, Levin Management’s president and COO. “Last year, we saw a 50/50 split. Half our tenants were experiencing satisfactory sales performance, and the other half had discouraging sales and store traffic. While 2012’s results show we still have a way to go, the numbers clearly have gotten better.”
Levin Management’s mid-year 2012 survey captured a general feeling of optimism among retail tenants, according to Harding. More than nine out of 10 respondents (91.4%) feel that the second half of 2012 will see sales remain at the same level or improve; only 8.5% expect sales to decrease. A notable number, 28.1%, reported higher inventory levels than one year ago. Promotional pricing and markdowns continue to be a key to overall retail marketing: 43.1% of respondents said that these strategies are even more important today than one year ago.
In addition to its annual mid-year survey, Levin Management also conducts surveys prior to and after the winter holidays, tracking retailer expectations and actual performance. The positive mid-year 2012 results are in keeping with the most recent post-holiday findings.
In January, 71.2% of survey respondents reported that their 2011 holiday season traffic was the same or better compared to 2010. Nearly three-quarters of respondents – 73.1% – reported seasonal sales at the same or better level than in 2010. Levin Management’s 2012 mid-year survey also asked tenants about their Memorial Day sales volume. The findings are slightly lower, but still in keeping with post-holiday results; 59.4% reported the same or higher sales compared with last year.
The vast majority (65.9%) of respondents pointed to the economy as the main driver affecting traffic. Fewer reported unseasonable warmth (21%) and gasoline prices (13%) as influencing the number of shoppers visiting their stores. And among those who chose the economy, more than half (52.3%) reported that the impact was negative; only 11.9% cited the economy as beneficial.