A deep dive into specialty shopping trends for the Class of 2012
Graduation season brings with it backyard parties and nostalgia, and it also comes with lots of interesting data. Our love for analysis and visualization has led us here! We focused on specialty retail for this analysis due to the more personalized nature of their products.
In total, we analyzed 513 specialty retailers across the nation for shopping behavior over a six-week period. Prior to our analysis we expected that retailers would experience a graduation spike in conversion and dollars sold. The graphic below highlights overall specialty retail performance and key gifting sales.
Surprised? We were! We found that conversion from the base to the test period stayed consistent, which contradicts our original expectations. So we looked deeper into our data and, based on preliminary analysis, decided to compare retailers between the coasts, choosing California and Massachusetts as our two collegiate states (full disclosure: two of our insights team members are alumni of schools in these locales). Our bi-coastal comparison results are shown below:
After doing a bi-coastal comparison we noticed that these numbers tell a different story than the nation as a whole. Both states show a decrease in traffic to specialty retail stores during graduation season. Surprisingly, California’s traffic went down nearly 15 percentage points more than Massachusetts’s, but it still managed to experience an increase of 5 percentage points in conversion. Massachusetts, on the other hand, experienced a relatively mild graduation season. Could Massachusetts’s results be due to its higher proportion of small private colleges, with the potential for more out-of-state students and thus out-of-state purchases? Possibly.
Bi-coastal analysis highlights the significance of geography as a factor when analyzing conversion rates across your chain. Last month I wrote a blog post about taking conversion further and the importance of county differences. I still strongly believe that retailers need to take their surrounding environments into account when trying to achieve similar conversion rates.
Interactive graphic shows impact of retail industry