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Saks Fifth Avenue holiday foot-traffic boost is declining every year

2 months ago by Joshua Fruhlinger in Consumer, Retail

If there is one thing that retailer and New York holiday mainstay Saks Fifth Avenue ($TSX:HBC) could always count on, it's an annual boost of foot traffic as locals and tourists alike flock to 5th Avenue to gawk at the window displays and do some holiday shopping.

But the holiday boost for Saks' brick-and-mortar stores appears to be decreasing every year as more consumers turn to e-commerce, alternative retailers, and fast fashion.

For every holiday season since 2016, "Were Here" count, as measured by the number of selfies, check-ins, and status updates recorded by Facebook, the holiday boost has declined.

In 2016, Were Here counts jumped from 374,000 to 421,000 between November 1 and December 31, a gain of 47,000 updates, selfies, and mentions from Saks locations. In 2017, Were Here's moved from 468,000 to 505,000 for a gain of 37,000, a decline of 10,000 year-over-year. Then in 2018, the holiday season only moved Saks' Were Here count from 534,000 to 555,000 for a gain of 21,000, a decline of another 16,000 year-over-year.

The decline in holiday boost doesn't necessarily reflect declining holiday sales for Saks. As CNBC's Lauren Thomas reported last year, 2018 was the best holiday shopping season for retail in 6 years. However, she reported, online sales were up 19.1%, accounting for a larger share than ever.

But Saks' latest owner Hudson Bay is looking to shed some retail overhead — most notable Saks Fifth Avenue itself, which it is selling to WeWork Property Advisors. Saks agreed to a deal to sell to Hudson Bay this fall.

Perhaps some digital savvy will be good for the brand as it looks to survive the retail apocalypse.

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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Joshua Fruhlinger

Joshua has been writing about technology, lifestyle, and business for over 20 years. He's one of the original writers and editors for Engadget, and still writes a...

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