ShopperTrak: December Retail Sales Grow By Double Digits Weekly

December holiday sales remain flat year-over-year but are showing signs of growth to come. Double-digit increases in week-over-week sales show shoppers are spending this holiday season.

According to ShopperTrak, a provider of retail and mall foot-traffic counting services, the week ending Dec. 10 saw a 10.6 percent increase in retail sales from the previous week. This bodes well as retailers prepare for the next two weeks of holiday shoppers-historically two of the highest GAFO (general merchandise, apparel and accessories, furniture, and other sales) sales weeks of the year for retailers.

Year-over-year comparisons, however, show retail sales decreased 1.9 percent versus the same week in 2010. The year-over-year loss followed a 0.2 percent year-over-year increase during the week ending Dec. 3, and does not indicate an ongoing trend for the holiday season. According to ShopperTrak, the decline may be weather-related, as warm temperatures across the nation kept seasonal winter merchandise on the shelves. Further, the decrease in retail sales is likely due to Hanukkah shifting dates from Dec. 1 in 2010 to Dec. 20 this year.

ShopperTrak's holiday forecast, released earlier this year, of a moderate 3 percent year-over-year sales increase throughout the entire November- December holiday season was conservative. November GAFO estimates show sales rose 4.1 percent year-over-year, indicating even greater numbers may be coming in December.

"Last week's strong week-over-week retail sales increase is an indication of things to come," said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder. "Retailers will see sales increases all the way up to Christmas Day and the end of Hanukkah. As these important days get closer, shoppers will concentrate on completing their holiday shopping and year-over-year losses will be wiped out."

Weekend sales were up, as both Saturday (Dec. 10) and Sunday (Dec. 11) showed year-over-year gains and consumers spent an estimated $14.76 billion. ShopperTrak expects this weekend's retail sales to perform even better as it includes "Super Saturday," the last Saturday with normal store hours before Christmas. Martin also noted that six of the top 10 shopping days of the holiday season are still to come, pointing to Dec. 17, Dec. 18, Dec. 19, Dec. 22, Dec. 23 and Dec. 26.

"There is still a lot of holiday shopping left," said Martin. "Retailers who accurately monitor daily foot-traffic and make appropriate staffing and inventory adjustments to assist the season's focused, value-driven buyers will succeed."

ShopperTrak analyzed foot-traffic from more than 25,000 locations in the United States to create this National Retail Sales Estimate of general merchandise, apparel and accessories, furniture and other sales.
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