NEW YORK Economic pressures and online deals might have led consumers to sharply limit their trips to retailers in the week leading up to Christmas, data tracker ShopperTrak RCT said on Thursday.
ShopperTrak, which measures customer traffic primarily in malls, said U.S. foot traffic for the week ending December 22 fell 10.6 percent compared with the year-earlier period.
"The sharp, year-over-year traffic decline is something that retailers will watch closely as consumers continue redeeming gift cards and returning gifts in the days immediately following Christmas," ShopperTrak co-founder Bill Martin said in a statement.
Traffic for December fell 4.36 percent, according to ShopperTrak, which tracks sales at more than 50,000 U.S. retail locations.
The U.S. housing meltdown and the rising costs of food and fuel might have contributed to the lower traffic totals, ShopperTrak spokesman Aaron Martin said.
But despite the decline in traffic, shoppers continued a year-long trend of making a larger spend with fewer trips to retailers, ShopperTrak said.
On Monday, the company said sales for the week ending December 22 rose 33.1 percent, compared with the week ending December 15, as holiday shopping peaked.
Investors have been closely tracking the progress of this year's holiday season amid concerns that consumers will pare spending as they face these challenges.
U.S. retailers saw sales climb 3.6 percent during the holiday shopping season, at the low end of expectations, according to data released by SpendingPulse on Christmas Day.
(Reporting by Justin Grant)