Monday, Oct 22, 2018
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Retail firms not expecting a boom for Labor Day

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The merchandise is ready, the advertisements printed, and the shopping hours adjusted in anticipation of a big Labor Day sale weekend.

But when it comes to actual store foot traffic on Labor Day itself, the first Monday in September is usually a big dud, according to a software firm that tracks retail sales transactions.

Womply Inc. said an analysis of previous transaction data from nearly 1,600 small retailers in Ohio indicates this Monday will be one of the worst sales days of the year — No. 341 — for retailers in the Buckeye state.

The company, which is headquartered in San Francisco, said it studied transaction data from 54,000 retailers nationwide to look at every calendar date and detect spending patterns of consumers.

In Ohio, Labor Day shopping usually means a 49 percent dip in daily revenues, compared to just 23 percent nationally.

But sales on Friday should help offset what is to come on Monday. The Friday before Labor Day brings a 50 percent increase in revenues and has been the No. 20 best sales day in Ohio.

“We like to get an idea somewhat of consumer behavior, to understand trends. With the large database that we have, we see a lot of transactional data,” Dan Lalli, a Womply spokesman, said. “We want to help mom-and-pop retailers know how good a Valentine’s Day is compared to other days.”

For J. Foster Jewelers, which has stores at Toledo’s Franklin Park Mall and Maumee’s The Shops at Fallen Timbers, Labor Day weekend “is one of our slowest weekends,” said owner Phil Kajca.

“It’s not a traditional gift-giving occasion and school’s already back in session. And when the weather's good it’s people’s last hurrah to celebrate summer,” he said. “Definitely the last weekend of August and the first of September is usually not good for retail.”

While most Ohio retailers will experience a forgettable Monday, for some the weekend could be pretty good.

Mr. Womply said Labor Day nationally is a good sales day for appliance stores and furniture stores. For appliance stores, Labor Day is their No. 6 best sales day with a 91 percent increase in revenue; for furniture stores it’s the No. 3 best sales day with a 68 percent increase.

It’s also expected to be a good day for some specialty retailers, like the Buckeye Store & More in Sylvania. The sports licensed merchandise and apparel retailer always does well daily once football season starts, and owner Jim Damschroder expects it to be the same this Monday.

“With the business we’re in, the Monday after all these weekend games is good. When we’re in the football season, we’ll do decently,” he said. “It’s going to be a softer day, but we’ll do business.”

Retail analyst Burt Flickinger said Ohio’s 2017 Labor Day sales numbers might have been a bit skewed because it was this time last year when Toys R Us had an impending bankruptcy, the Bon Ton Stores group, which included Elder-Beerman, was going through very public struggles, and both Sears and Kmart were closing stores.

Labor Day data “may be a one-off due to impending bankruptcies and liquidations,” he said.

But Mr. Flickinger said Labor Day does present challenges for retailers. “It’s a little bit lighter because you have a record number of people on the road, the schools are open, it’s the close of summer, and families are traveling that day,” he said.

Contact Blade Business Writer Jon Chavez at jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.

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