U.S. retailers will continue to face difficulties in the second quarter as both traffic and sales levels are expected to post steady declines versus the same period last year, according to retail research and information company ShopperTrak.
Retail sales are expected to slide 2.4 percent in the second quarter, according to the company's National Retail Sales Estimate, or NRSE, ShopperTrak said on Friday.
Total U.S. foot traffic will fall 13.0 percent in the second quarter, according to the company's Retail Traffic Index, or SRTI.
Shrinking household wealth, rising job losses and consumer confidence lingering at near record lows have curtailed spending.
Unfortunately, the sales and traffic declines we're anticipating for the next three months aren't a real shock to retailers as the economy remains in the doldrums, and both retailers and consumers alike feel the pinch, Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak, said in a statement. Looking ahead, the third quarter should get a slight boost from the annually solid back-to-school shopping season and, as always, the fourth quarter will benefit from the holidays -- but our data seems to support the thinking of most economists, which is real recovery most likely won't begin until early 2010.
Anemic consumer spending helped shrink the U.S. trade deficit in February by 28.3 percent to its smallest since November 1999.
Although the second quarter contains annually strong shopping periods like Easter, Mother's Day, spring break and various graduations, ShopperTrak's data suggests the second quarter will perform very similar to the first quarter.
ShopperTrak estimated that first-quarter traffic fell 13 percent and sales declined 2.8 percent, only slightly better than the company's original forecast for a first-quarter traffic decline of 16.4 percent and a 4.0 percent drop in sales.
ShopperTrak's first-quarter forecast followed the 2008 holiday shopping season, which recorded the lowest sales and traffic levels the company has seen since it began compiling both sets of data in 2003.
(Reporting by Ilaina Jonas; Editing by Jan Paschal)