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US store traffic falls as shoppers await discounts
December 12, 2007 / 10:22 PM / 10 years ago

US store traffic falls as shoppers await discounts

NEW YORK, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Since the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, U.S. store traffic has fallen compared with a year ago as penny conscious consumers hold out for deeper discounts closer to Christmas, according to data released on Wednesday by ShopperTrak RCT

ShopperTrak RCT, which tracks sales at more than 50,000 U.S. retail locations, said store traffic for the week ended Dec. 8 fell 12.3 percent compared with a year earlier.

That follows a 4.7 percent drop in shoppers visiting stores for the week ending Dec. 1 when compared with a year earlier.

Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak, said that, after consumers flocked to stores during the Thanksgiving weekend, they are procrastinating, betting stores will cut prices in the days ahead of Christmas to win last-minute sales.

Investors are tracking the progress of the holiday season closely this year, worried consumers will pare spending due to higher gasoline prices, a deteriorating housing market and tightening credit terms.

ShopperTrak RCT said retail sales for the month of November increased 4 percent compared with a year ago, while total November U.S. traffic rose 5.7 percent.

Sales and store traffic typically jump in November because retailers such as J.C. Penney Co Inc (JCP.N), Best Buy Co Inc (BBY.N) and Target Corp (TGT.N) offer eye-popping discounts during the Thanksgiving weekend to attract customers at the start the holiday shopping rush.

But Martin said the 4 percent rise in overall November sales was “soft” in the face of such a strong jump in traffic.

“I would have expected to see a larger rise in sales,” he added.

On a more positive note, ShopperTrak said sales for the week ending Dec. 8 compared with the previous week ending Dec. 1 rose 14.3 percent, while consumer traffic rose 10.3 percent. (Reporting by Nicole Maestri; Editing by Andre Grenon)

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