Research firm: Holiday shoppers step up pace

AP News
Posted: Dec 21, 2011 6:54 PM
Research firm: Holiday shoppers step up pace

Holiday shoppers got serious about buying last week. Sales spiked for the latest week ended Saturday compared with the previous week, according to a research firm.

ShopperTrak, a Chicago-based research firm, reported Wednesday that total sales rose 21.7 percent from the previous week and 1.3 percent over the same week a year earlier.

Sales from Nov. 1 through Saturday are up 2.5 percent, according to ShopperTrak. The increase offers relief to stores, which had seen a lull in sales after a record spending spree over the Thanksgiving weekend, the official start of the holiday season.

November sales rose 4.1 percent, but so far this month, sales are up a modest 0.5 percent compared with the year-ago period. Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak, is counting on a final spending surge before Christmas to meet its holiday sales growth forecast of 3.7 percent compared with a year ago. ShopperTrak upgraded its forecast from 3.0 percent last week, reflecting optimism that more spending is to come.

"December's retail gains will likely continue all the way through Christmas and the end of Hanukkah," said Martin in a statement.

Despite the sales increase last week over the previous week, sales on Saturday had a 0.7 percent decline over the same period a year ago. Shoppers spent $7.5 billion this past Saturday, compared with $7.55 billion in the year-ago period, according to ShopperTrak.

Martin says that the additional Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas may have led more shoppers to delay finishing their buying

ShopperTrak measures foot traffic in 25,000 stores in the U.S. and blends those figures with economic data along with proprietary sales figures from merchants. The data excludes sales from automotive dealers, gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores.