ShopperTrak report: Holiday sales increase 22% for week ending Dec. 17

CHICAGO — A report released Wednesday by ShopperTrak found that holiday shoppers boosted sales 21.7% over the previous week and 1.3% over the same week last year.

According to ShopperTrak, sales increases during the week ending Dec. 17 made this December on pace to have higher retail sales than last year. Month-to-date figures are up 0.5% over December 2010.

“December’s retail gains will likely continue all the way through Christmas and the end of Hanukkah,” said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder. “As the weather gets colder and these important days get closer, retailers should be ready to service customers looking to buy.”

Despite the high week-over-week returns, the weekend of Dec. 16 – Dec. 18 showed slight year-over-year declines in sales. Super Saturday, the last Saturday with regular shopping hours before Christmas, had a 0.7% sales decline over the same day in 2010 and consumers spent $7.5 billion compared to $7.55 billion spent last year.

According to ShopperTrak, the additional Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year may have led more shoppers to procrastinate finishing their holiday shopping. Impulse or “add-on” purchases may also be lower this season, as many of holiday shoppers make purchasing decisions before walking into a store, due to online research and planned shopping outings.

Despite weekend sales declines, week-over-week gains continued from the previous week ending Dec. 10, which had a 10.6% increase in sales, and reversed the year-over-year losses for that week. ShopperTrak expects the upward sales trend to continue.

“This week holds an extra shopping day between Thanksgiving and Christmas compared to past years,” Martin said. “Shoppers will be ready to spend the rest of their holiday budgets. Stores that monitor hourly foot traffic, staff appropriately to the number of shoppers in the store and prepare inventory for additional traffic will be most successful.”