Think BR: Samsung and shopper numbers

With Christmas Day just a few weeks away, retailers will be hoping that the weather does not have a detrimental impact on shopper numbers, writes Frank Jellinek of Ipsos Retail Performance.

Samsung, one of the world’s leading mobile phone and display brands earlier this year rolled out their Samsung Pin stores in key locations across London as part of their global Samsung SIII handset launch and as part of their brand awareness campaign for the London 2012 Olympics of which Samsung is one of the main sponsors.

The Pin-stores are ‘über-designed’ glass boxes aiming at delivering a holistic brand experience. We’ve been asked to deliver footfall data for five of these stores in and across key locations in London.

Although first and foremost Samsung was interested in capturing the overall footfall to gauge the level of customer interest in the shop and the SIII phone, it later decided to match-up the footfall data with their transaction rates to get a complete picture of their conversion rate at their in-house data centre.

IRP installed the first Shopper Count (IRP’s product brand name) sensors in two Pin-stores at the Shepherds Bush Westfield in London and one at Spitalfields Market, followed by another two in Hyde Park and the Olympic Park in Stratford.

Interestingly, during the first week, both Pins at the Westfield Shopping Centre (which have been strategically placed near enough to the Apple Store to make an unmistakable statement), saw massive interest with over 3000 people visiting the store within the first week of operation.  Whereas the Pin Spitalfields Market saw less traffic overall (1668 visitors during its first week of operation), the figures were somewhat more steady throughout the week.

The second set of installations took place in Hyde Park and the Olympic Park in Stratford itself. Due to severe rainfall and lower than expected numbers of visitors, the footfall figures for the Hyde Park store were slightly lower than Samsung expected. However, and due to the nature of its location, it was a very different picture at the Pin-store at the Olympic Park, which seen an incredible 8686 of customers visiting during the first week after the official opening of the Olympics on July 27.

The hype about Samsung’s newest mobile handset SIII was reflected in the high level of footfall data IRP collected at the five Pin stores and surely the Olympic Games helped to elevate the figure Interestingly, although the Olympics are over, it impacted the overall footfall positively, as Ipsos Retail Performance’s Retail Intelligence Director Dr Tim Denison noted in a recent article and those figures show, that the Retail Traffic Index stood 7.3% up on Q2, well above the 4.4% seasonal average of the three previous years.

Dr Tim Denison, Director of Retail Intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, said: "We have been seeing footfall gradually returning to the shops as the year has worn on.

He further noted, that "The gap on last year has been steadily closing, and now, for the first time this year, we have recorded a month of growth."

"Such is the importance of the retail sector to the economy - contributing almost 10% of GDP - that politicians and retailers alike will welcome the news that metrics such as the Retail Traffic Index and Ipsos MORI’s Economic Optimism Index are moving in the right direction. It is certainly the case that consumers are comparatively better off financially than they were earlier in the year, as average wage rises reach parity with inflation."

And with Christmas Day just a few weeks away, retailers will be hoping that the weather does not have any further detrimental impact on shopper numbers.

This year, Christmas shopping may be more about convalescence, with consumers simply content to spend what they have, and electing not to extend themselves beyond that.  The monthly RTI statistics show that 2012 has been a sobering year, one in which shoppers have learnt to be less consumptive and more questioning about the real value of what they buy.

"Retailers will need to be on their mettle this month, able to respond quickly and decisively to competitive action and pricing initiatives," says Dr Denison. "Stock levels will be smaller than previous years, so on best-selling lines the brave-hearted might decide not to push the discount button and instead be prepared to gamble that demand will exceed supply.

According to a recent BBC article, Samsung’s SIII beats Apple’s newest iPhone, the 4S and certainly, the focussed efforts of the Koreans and to a certain extend an ‘omnipresence’ of the brands in key locations with the Pin stores as well as Samsung’s contribution as a partner to the Olympics surely helped sales.

Other electronics brands are clearly looking ahead to Christmas and Dr Denison adds: "It will be interesting to see how this plays out among retailers with the likes of the imminent Nintendo Wii U launch. Christmas always has its winners and losers. In this respect 2012 will be no different - the winning retailers will be those that best respond to the shoppers’ call of ‘give me a reason to buy.'"

Frank Jellinek, Ipsos Retail Performance

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