US retail sales down in week before Christmas - ShopperTrak

Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:53am EST

Dec 27 (Reuters) - U.S. retail sales fell 2.5 percent last week from a year earlier as fewer people visited stores, retail tracking firm ShopperTrak said on Thursday, the latest signal that this holiday season's growth may not be as robust as some had anticipated.

ShopperTrak, which monitors the number of people walking into stores across the United States, said foot traffic fell 3.3 percent in the week ended Dec. 22 from last year.

However, sales increased 39.1 percent and traffic rose 32.0 percent compared to the previous week, as procrastinators rushed to finish last-minute shopping, ShopperTrak said.

The Saturday before Christmas, Dec. 22, was the second-busiest retail sales and foot traffic day of the year, behind Black Friday on Nov. 23, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, ShopperTrak said.

Shopping on the day after Christmas probably was not as strong this year as it was in 2011, ShopperTrak said. This year, Dec. 26 fell on a Wednesday, and many people likely were back at work. Last year, the day after Christmas came on a Monday.

Last week, ShopperTrak lowered its holiday season forecast, calling for sales in November and December to increase only 2.5 percent from 2011, down from 3.3 percent.

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