Visits to retailers increasing as holiday season begins

Dec 03, 2015 by

The spirit is in the air; the shopping spirit, that is, according to this week’s Gaither International survey.

With stable or decreasing trends since the sales & use tax was increased from 7% to 11.5% in July 2015, visits by Puerto Rico consumers to local retail groups, measured by Gaither International’s Media Brand Profiles (MBP) survey, reflect important hikes in the first weeks of November.

As of the week of Nov. 15, various categories reflect increases in terms of visits by local shoppers in “the past seven days,” Gaither reported.

Among these: Food stores reached 77.1% after a drop to 72.6% and 70.7% in the first two weeks of the month, returning to the levels experienced in previous months. This means that as of Nov. 15, about 77.1% of those surveyed said they had visited a food store in the past seven days.


Pharmacies reached 66.3% visits, the highest levels recorded since September.

Mass merchandisers, which include Wal-Mart, Kmart and others, surpassed their year-to-date visit levels of about 41.7%, reaching 54.1% for the week of Nov. 15.

Meanwhile, during the second half of November, department stores—J.C. Penney Co., Macy’s, Sears, etc.—have experienced the highest levels so far this year. About 13.8% of respondents said they had visited a department store in the past seven days, after reaching a previous high of 13.4% in October.

Discount stores such as Almacenes La Riviera, Capri and La Reina, as well as club stores—Sam’s and Costco— and off -price retailers such as Marshall’s and Burlington also reflect a similar trend of more shoppers in the first weeks of November, reaching the highest levels since August.

The results are from Gaither International’s MBP tracking survey, which interviews more than 80 people daily from among a representative sample of Puerto Rico’s population ages 12 and older.

As reported by CB Online (Nov. 23, 2015), a separate survey by the United Retailers Association (CUD by its Spanish acronym) revealed that half its members believe sales this holiday season will be better or equal to last year’s, while the remaining half believes sales will be worse, mainly because of the economic stagnation Puerto Rico is facing.

Other survey findings are that 52.6% of CUD members use the internet as a sales tool, and that 81.6% are interested in learning more about the internet to improve their marketing and sales.

“These data are important because they essentially tell us that even though the economy isn’t at its best, merchants are betting on their ability to reinvent themselves, adjust to the times and move forward. For me, the key message from this survey is that many merchants are maintaining a positive attitude,” said CUD President Rubén Piñero Dávila. 

Polling is conducted by Gaither International and results are reported by CARIBBEAN BUSINESS.