ShopperTrak: Holiday sales expected to be up, but foot traffic will drop

CHICAGO — In the wake of several surveys projecting how shoppers will spend this holiday season, the latest study from ShopperTrak expects national retail sales to increase 3% during November and December, while foot traffic will drop 2.2%.

ShopperTrak said its 3% holiday sales increase prediction follows 19 consecutive months of year-over-year U.S. retail sales growth, adding that the expected increase is moderate when compared with the 2010 holiday season's 4.1% sales increase over 2009.

The projected decrease in foot traffic, however, was based on current numbers, which revealed that so far this year, shoppers have visited an average of 3.10 stores per shopping trip, a decrease from an average of 3.19 per shopping trip in 2010, and even less than the four to five stores visited in early 2008 (before the recession). ShopperTrak said this year's numbers are influenced by high unemployment rates, as well as gas prices, which have experienced a 33% increase this season over last year.

"The persistently high unemployment and fuel rates along with consumers' conservative purchasing attitudes will affect spending this holiday season more than in recent years," ShopperTrak co-founder Bill Martin said. "Every shopper in a store will be more valuable than last year, and retail stores should be ready to convert their holiday shoppers into sales."