ShopperTrak: Retail sales flat first week of December

CHICAGO — A report released Wednesday by ShopperTrak said that sales increased just 0.2% year-over-year for the week ended Dec. 3, representing a 22.5% decline from the prior week, which held the largest Black Friday in history — both in terms of sales and traffic.

According to ShopperTrak, this sharp decline in retail sales is typical of the week following Thanksgiving. Although shoppers have an initial burst of activity spurred on by Black Friday sales promotions, they often stay home during the following week.

“After the ‘Black’ weekend promotions play out, shoppers settle back and shop online for Cyber Monday deals,” ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin said. “They assess their holiday shopping lists and budgets, and over the next few weeks they will head back to stores in increasing numbers to finish shopping.”

As ShopperTrak reported earlier this month, Black Friday weekend seems to be shifting to encompass days prior to the big shopping event. Stores saw more foot-traffic before Black Friday this year, indicating consumers shopped earlier in the season and possibly contributing to the drop-off last week.

Hanukkah also started later this year than last, and Cyber Monday was the largest in its history. Both of these shifts contributed to a lackluster week in retail sales at brick-and-mortar stores.

“Our records indicate Monday through Wednesday for each of the first two weeks after Thanksgiving historically have the lowest shopper traffic of the entire shopping period between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Martin said. “These days offer the best shopping experience for holiday season shoppers who don’t like crowds but still want a good merchandise selection. There is still a lot of holiday shopping left to be done.”