Americans Buying Less, Clicking Less

The weary American consumer is creating major challenges for retailers. Two pieces of evidence: 1) declining retail sales and 2) declining open rates rates for e-mail. An article appearing online at The New York Times reports that retail sales in October experienced the largest monthly drop ever. It is feared that the 2.8% drop from September and 4.1% drop from last October are not the last dips to be felt in retail sales. Despite retailers’ best efforts to attract customers with promotions and incentives, consumer response may be soft for the near future.

If the bleak sales picture is not enough bad news for retailers, another study shows that a promotion tactic often used by retailers, e-mail, is less effective with consumers these days. Research by MailerMailer found that the open rate for consumer e-mails dropped from 16.1% in the first half of 2007 to 13.2% in the same period in 2008. Consumers that are being cautious at best or have less money to spend appear less interested in opening e-mails from marketers because it means they may have to decide whether to spend money they may or may not have!

The decline in e-mail open rates should hardly discourage marketers. E-mail is a very cost effective medium to use, and permission-based e-mail campaigns still are based on customers’ desires to have a relationship with a company from which they have consented to receive e-mail communications. It does mean that the relevance of every message sent to customers must be evaluated in an effort to make it worth consumers’ time and effort to open marketing e-mail messages.

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Author: Don Roy

Marketing educator, blogger, & consultant- Having fun with all of the above!

1 thought on “Americans Buying Less, Clicking Less”

  1. JCrew is one of my favorite stores…well it IS my favorite store. I have been heavily shopping there for about 4 years now. In all that time, I have never seen so many sales, received so many emails about sales, or opened my mailbox to find so many new catalogs from them. I can really tell that their sales are slacking because of the aggressive marketing. I recently saw an interview with their CEO, and he was discussing the fact that he has never seen their sales decline as much as they have here recently in the 14 years that he has been with the company.

    I think my personal story is an example of what is going on everywhere. I have seen more sales, liquidation postings, and buy-one-get-one free type advertisements everywhere. Advertisers are basically exalting all efforts to try to lure consumers into stores due to economic difficulty, and it is only about to get worse the closer and closer it gets to Christmas…

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