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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Last Surge Boosts Holiday Sales Past Last Year's Total

Late holiday shoppers—in the week leading up to Christmas and on the day after—provided the boost to lift 2011 holiday sales past the same period last year, according to data released Wednesday.

Consumers spent approximately $44 billion in GAFO retail sales for the week ending Dec. 24, a 37.8 percent increase over the previous week and a 14.8 percent gain over the same week last year, according to ShopperTrak, which provides traffic counting services at retail stores and malls. Foot traffic was also high, increasing 32.4 percent from the prior week.

GAFO is derived from the U.S. Commerce Department's and stands for general merchandise, apparel, furniture, sporting goods, electronics, hobby, books and other related store sales.

Last week’s sales increase ensured this December will outpace December 2010. Month-to-date figures are up 4.7 percent over December 2010, the Chicago-based firm said.

“With good weather in most of the country and the season coming to a close, procrastinators and bargain hunters hit the stores and gave retailers the sales lift they needed to outpace last year,” said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin

According to ShopperTrak, a late holiday shopping surge is not uncommon. Last year, the 10 days before Christmas accounted for 24.4 percent of total GAFO retail sales in the entire holiday shopping season of November and December.

“Increased foot-traffic does not always translate into sales,” added Martin. “Retailers who monitored their foot-traffic hourly and adjusted inventory and staffing to convert shoppers into buyers were the most successful last week.”

As expected, shoppers came out in full force on the day after Christmas because it fell on a Monday for the first time in six years. The day ranked fourth in foot-traffic and sales for the entire holiday season, behind Black Friday November 26, Friday December 23 and Super Saturday December 17. Foot traffic increased 25.9 percent over the same day last year and consumers spent $7.1 billion on Dec. 26 in GAFO retail sales, an increase of 25.5 percent percent over the same day in the prior year.

“Dec. 26 was likely the last door-buster day of the season as shoppers returned unwanted gift items and shopped for marked-down merchandise,” said Martin. “ShopperTrak expects a drop in sales this week as the season ends. Retailers must continue to monitor same-store traffic to capitalize on the final week of the holiday season.”

ShopperTrak analyzed foot-traffic from more than 25,000 locations in the United States to create this National Retail Sales Estimate of GAFO—a nationwide benchmark of GAFO retail sales.