Saturday before Christmas Foot Traffic Down 17%

ShopperTrak’s retail traffic index reported that total U.S. foot traffic for the last Saturday before Christmas (Dec. 20) fell 17 percent year-over-year.

Meanwhile the Chicago-based company’s retail sales estimate reported a 0.5 percent sales increase for the same period.

Retail traffic showed a significant decline for this critical holiday shopping day (also known by some in the retail industry as “Super Saturday”) as the state of the economy combined with inclement weather throughout much of the country may have curbed consumer trips to various malls and retail outlets, said ShopperTrak, which tracks and analyzes consumer traffic in retail environments. The firm added that the 2008 calendar shift most likely influenced Super Saturday retail traffic as Super Saturday 2007 received more of a boost from procrastinating shoppers as the day was two days closer to Christmas. Historically, Super Saturday 2007 ($8.7 billion) increased 2 percent over the same period in 2006.

Although foot traffic significantly declined for the day, retail sales rose a slight 0.5 percent  to $8.75 billion, compared to last year, as consumers continued the trend of efficient shopping during the challenging 2008 holiday season, ShopperTrak said Retail sales for Super Saturday 2007 increased a slight 0.1 percent as versus the same period in 2006.

“Super Saturday’s performance highlights the continued economic pressures on the American consumer this holiday shopping season,” said Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak. “That being said, with the current economy and rather poor weather this past weekend, focused consumers still efficiently planned retail visits around deeply discounted items and proved they were willing to spend more on fewer trips.”  Martin continued: “We still anticipate Super Saturday will be the number two performing day this holiday shopping season, behind Black Friday.”

ShopperTrak also reported year-over-year sales for the week ending Dec. 20 fell 6.5 percent, while sales versus the previous week ending Dec. 13 increased 22.5 percent. Total U.S. foot traffic for the same period versus the 2007 comparison week ending Dec. 22, fell 24 percent.