RS Metrics' Satellite Traffic Data Shows Continued Uptick Through November and Early December

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Improving retail parking lot traffic trends at the end of the third quarter of 2016 have continued through November and early December, potentially offsetting deflation in key categories such as grocery, apparel, and electronics.

FIG.1: RS Metrics JCPenney year-over-year traffic growth shows sequential acceleration in October. FIG.2: RS Metrics MacroTracker shows sequential improvements from August through November.

“Whether it’s pent up demand after a grueling presidential election, or the continuation of an improving trend since the summer, traffic at many retailers appears to be accelerating into early December.”

After a slow start to the retail fiscal third quarter in August, sales and parking lot traffic at many retailers began to improve in September and especially October. On its third quarter earnings call, JCPenney CEO Marvin Ellison stated that: “October was our best-performing month, delivering solid positive comps that accelerated throughout the month.” (source: seekingalpha.com, Nov 11, 2016). This sentiment was echoed by other retailers and confirmed by the October US Census Advance Retail Sales report which the Wall Street Journal described as the “best two-month stretch of sales in at least two years” (source: wsj.com, Nov 15, 2016).

Now, nearly halfway through the fourth quarter, RS Metrics is measuring stronger year-over-year traffic across most of its coverage universe. November was particularly strong as traffic declines on Black Friday, Election Day, and the day after the Presidential Election were offset by generally stronger traffic throughout the month. The third and fourth weeks of the month were better than the first and second, although Halloween provided a boost to grocery-focused retailers in the first week.

Multiple sources corroborate the RS Metrics data for November including the Gallup Daily Consumer Spending survey which stated that November represented the “Highest spending average for month of November in Gallup's trend” (source: gallup.com, Dec 5, 2016). First Data used credit-card transactions in its SpendTrend report to measure a 5.6% increase in sales from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday (source: firstdata.com). And the Dallas Fed stated in its Texas Retail Outlook Survey stating that “The sales index moved back into expansionary territory, surging from -6.6 in October to 13.2 in November.” (source: dallasfed.org, Nov 29, 2016).

“Whether it’s pent up demand after a grueling presidential election, or the continuation of an improving trend since the summer, traffic at many retailers appears to be accelerating into early December,” said Alex Diamond, Vice President of Product at RS Metrics. “The rising share of eCommerce aside, most US consumers are still shopping in-store for a majority of their purchases. Omnichannel strategies like “buy-online-pickup-in-store” seem to be winning this holiday season.”

RS Metrics data is released weekly, monthly, and quarterly and is generated from millions of data points across 45 different retailers and restaurants using satellite imagery sourced from industry leaders Airbus Defence and Space, Inc. and DigitalGlobe, Inc. New coverage added during 2016 includes the following companies: Burlington Coat Factory, Conn's HomePlus, Dillard's, Dick's Sporting Goods, Nordstrom, CarMax, Kroger, El Pollo Loco, Party City, Smart & Final, Simon Property Group, and TJ Maxx.

Contact Remote Sensing Metrics at (212) 671-1056 or info(at)rsmetrics(dot)com for more information.

About Remote Sensing Metrics, LLC
RS Metrics is the leading provider of applications and data from large-scale analysis of satellite and aerial imagery, and other geospatial information sources. Using a proprietary automated processing workflow, RS Metrics derives analytical insights from satellite, aerial, and drone imagery using machine learning, computer vision, and human oversight. Founded in 2009 by executives with backgrounds in Wall Street, strategy consulting, and geospatial technologies, RS Metrics is a global company with offices in New York, Chicago, Colorado and Colombo, Sri Lanka with several patents pending for its proprietary data products and technology.

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Jena Skivington
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