ShopperTrak cuts holiday forecast

ShopperTrak cuts holiday sales forecast after holiday season limps along, sees 2.5 pct growth

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- ShopperTrak, which analyzes customer traffic at U.S. stores, is cutting its holiday sales forecast as shopping has limped along since the Thanksgiving weekend buying frenzy.

ShopperTrak, based in Chicago, said Wednesday that it now expects holiday sales to be up 2.5 percent, down from a 3.3 percent projection issued in September.

It cited Superstorm Sandy and "heavily discounted merchandise" for the reduced forecast, which compares with a 3.7 percent increase a year ago.

ShopperTrak still believes that foot traffic will be up 2.8 percent from a year ago, the first increase in visits for the holiday season since 2008.

"We were hoping that this past Saturday would be the kick off to good things to come," said Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak. "But it feels like the steam is out of the holiday since Black Friday."

Martin also believes that the Newtown, Conn., school shooting had an effect in tempering shoppers' moods over the weekend. "Christmas may be about being with the family than putting gifts under the tree."

For the week ended Saturday, foot traffic was up 15.1 percent and retail sales rose 16.4 percent over the previous week. But compared with the year-ago period, foot traffic was down 4.4 percent and sales declined 4.3 percent.

The November-December period accounts for as much as 40 percent of retailers' annual sales.

ShopperTrak counts foot traffic and blends that data with its own proprietary sales numbers from 40,000 retail outlets across the U.S.

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