ShopperTrak lowers holiday sales forecast

Chicago -- A report released by ShopperTrak on Wednesday revealed a downwardly revised holiday forecast indicating a 2.5% year-over-year sales increase.

According to ShopperTrak, although week-over-week numbers improved, year-over-year statistics are stumbling. For the weekend ended Dec. 15, retail foot traffic rose 15.1% week-over-week, and sales increased 16.4% week-over-week.

But, in year-over-year comparisons, foot traffic declined 4.4% and sales declined 4.3%.

“Hanukkah-related shopping helped boost retail sales last week, but many consumers delayed their Christmas shopping -- and with good reason,” said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder. “They saw 32 shopping days between Black Friday and Christmas, the longest interval possible. However, time is running out and Christmas is less than one week away,” he said.

As a result, said Martin, ShopperTrak is forecasting that the week ending Dec. 22 will experience the largest weekly sales volume of the year. “And Saturday, Dec. 22, will be one of the five busiest shopping days of the season,” said Martin.

Despite this last-minute rush, ShopperTrak now forecasts holiday sales for the months of November and December will increase by about 2.5% over last year -- down slightly from the 3.3% increase it projected in September.

ShopperTrak still maintains holiday season foot traffic will increase 2.8% over last year. This represents the first increase in retail foot traffic during the holiday season since the recession in 2008.

Several factors contributed to the company’s decision to lower its forecast, including heavily discounted merchandise and the impact of Hurricane Sandy.