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U.S. Retail Sales -1% For Week Ending December 15

Same-Store Sales +2%
Dec 18, 2013 10:12 AM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... ShopperTrak reported that U.S. retail store sales fell 0.8 percent year on year for the week that ended on December 15, while store foot traffic plunged 19.9 percent.  Saturday, December 14, reflected a particularly large decline in retail sales and traffic due in part to inclement weather across the Midwest and northeastern U.S.

“Last weekend’s extreme weather prevented many consumers from completing their holiday shopping,” said Bill Martin, the founder of ShopperTrak. “But those items remain on their shopping lists and we expect these individuals will add to the high levels of in-store shopper activity we usually see the weekend before Christmas.”

The Saturday before Christmas is defined as ''Super Saturday,'' which is December 21 this year, and ShopperTrak expects it to be among the busiest shopping days of the whole holiday season.

“Only one weekend remains before Christmas for shoppers to check everything off their holiday lists,” said Martin. “Shoppers will plan and focus their store visits on getting items they want at the best values. It will be critical for retailers to provide the best experience for shoppers motivated to complete their holiday shopping by adequately staffing to the surge in traffic and ensuring merchandise is stocked and easily accessible.”

Overall, ShopperTrak forecasts that 10 percent fewer shoppers will visit brick-and-mortar stores this Christmas season compared with 2012. Additionally, ShopperTrak expects retail sales will increase by 2.4 percent year on year for the months of November and December combined.

Meanwhile, U.S. chain-store sales rose 2 percent year on year for the week that ended on December 14, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and Goldman Sachs. Despite unfriendly shopping weather in some of the key markets, week-to-week comparable-store sales rose 4.8 percent.

Michael Niemira, ICSC's vice president of research and chief economist, said, “The sequential weekly sales pace soared over the past week as consumers accelerated their rate of holiday-gift completion, which, as of Sunday, stood at about two-thirds -- an increase of 17 percentage points from the prior week. Despite the latest week’s improvement, there remains a bit of sluggishness in Christmas sales and promotional activity has been stepped up over the last week. Since consumers are down to the wire with Christmas Day just about one week away, they will need to step up their gift buying even more this coming week.”

ICSC Research anticipates that same-store sales will reflect an increase of between 3 percent and 4 percent in December.

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Tags: Christmas season, foot traffic, ICSC, Jeff Miller, retail sales, shoppertrak
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