ShopperTrak: Holiday sales up 1.7%

New York City ShopperTrak said Monday that sales for November and December rose 1.7% and customer counts slipped 2.9%. That's better than ShopperTrak's predictions for a 1.6% sales gain and a 4.2% drop in traffic.

For the holiday 2008 season, sales fell 6% and traffic declined 15%, according to ShopperTrak.

ShopperTrak measures retail sales and traffic at more than 50,000 outlets.

The final holiday data is in line with numbers recently released from the International Council of Shopping Centers and MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse. The ICSC said Thursday that its holiday sales index was up 1.8%, better than the 1% gain originally expected.

A final surge in the days before Christmas and post-Christmas shopping helped save the season as consumers, either waiting for the best deals or shut in by snowstorms, delayed their buying.

Rounding out the season, sales and traffic for the week ending Jan. 2 rose sharply as consumers redeemed gift cards, took advantage of post holiday sales, and relieved some pent-up demand to buy items that might have been peripheral on their holiday lists. ShopperTrak reports retail sales increased 15.3% for the period, while traffic rose 3.5% as compared with last year.

“The 2009 holiday season most likely caused universal heartburn for the retail industry as the relative strength and optimism on Black Friday weekend was subdued by the record low numbers on Super Saturday -- only to rebound during the last two weeks of the season ultimately pushing 2009 into the black,” said ShopperTrak co-founder Bill Martin. “Although a sales increase of less than 2% with a 2.9% traffic decline doesn’t seem that significant compared to last year, this performance follows a steady downward sales and traffic decline seen throughout 2009 and undoubtedly retailers hope this positive trend will continue into early 2010 and beyond.”

For ShopperTrak’s full holiday 2009 analysis, please visit ShopperTrak’s newly designed Website, shoppertrak.com.

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