Three quarters of retailers reported holiday sales at or above 2017 levels this past season, according to Levin Management Corp.’s 2019 Retail Sentiment Outlook survey.
The North Plainfield-based real estate firm released its findings of its annual poll of retail store managers within its 105 property portfolio.
Positive findings weren’t limited to the holiday season. Annual sales from 2018 reached same or higher year-over-year level for 71.6 percent of respondents, surpassing a trailing five-year average of 57.3 percent.
“Based on our own Pre-Holiday Retail Sentiment Survey and other industry reports, we expected holiday and annual sales results to be positive,” said CEO Matthew Harding in a statement. “However, these dramatic jumps exceeded our expectations. In fact, the same/higher annual sales percentage is the strongest in our survey’s eight-year history.”
A healthy economy helped the retail industry out in 2018, Harding’s statement said.
LMC survey respondents anticipate a positive 2019, with 68 percent feeling optimistic about their store’s performance in the coming year and 27.7 percent expecting to open additional locations.
LMC also surveyed its retailers on how they’ve adapted their offerings. According to the survey, 57.9 percent of respondents said their company had adapted its business model with the growth of ecommerce. That’s up more than 20 percent since 2015. Another 63.3 percent of respondents have increased training and focus on customer service.
“You cannot replicate the personal touch in an online environment, and physical store retailers are working to leverage that advantage,” said Vice President of Marketing Melissa Sievwright in a statement.
More than 50 percent of respondents said they had increased use of technology-centered tools to assist customers in-store, increased use of technology-centered marketing tools to reach customers outside the store, and increased in-store services and incentives.
“The bottom line is that tenants are using multiple, diverse tools and techniques to distinguish their brands,” Sievwright said in a statement. “And it is working. In our 2019 Outlook survey, 68.2 percent of respondents who have adapted their business models said they are seeing the benefits in terms of sales and in-store traffic.”
The three-year trailing average is 48.9 percent.
LMC will conduct its next retail sentiment survey in May exploring year-to-date performance and technology issues.