Strong finish helps holiday retail sales to end 5% higher than last year

Procrastinating consumers, post-Christmas bargain hunters, and a favorable retail calendar combined to make Christmas week a very profitable one for the nation’s retailers, ShopperTrak reported today in its National Retail Sales Estimate (NRSE). Sales for the week ending Dec. 27 increased by a dramatic 24.6% over the same week in 2002, putting the 2003 holiday season on pace to finish more than 5% stronger than last year.

The healthy Christmas week sales were bolstered by a plethora of last-minute shoppers, as well as high sales volume on the day following Christmas, and a retail calendar that provided consumers with one extra shopping day prior to the holiday compared to 2002.

“Overall, the American consumer has not let retailers down so far this season,” said Michael Niemira, lead consultant for ShopperTrak. “With December shaping up to finish six percent stronger than last year, and November already up nearly five percent, we can say that this should be the strongest holiday retail season since 1999.”

ShopperTrak also reported that sales for the week ending Dec. 27 fell 3% from the prior week due to the uneven comparison of a seven day shopping week during the week ending Dec. 20, versus a holiday-shortened six day Christmas week. The company also stated that it expects this week to be highlighted by strong merchandise return and gift card redemption activity.

Developed by ShopperTrak, the NRSE provides a nationwide benchmark of retail sales. It is derived from the U.S. Commerce Department’s GAFO (general merchandise, apparel, furniture, sporting goods, electronics, hobby, books and other related store sales) statistic, as well as ShopperTrak’s proprietary industry intelligence on shopper movement and sales statistics. This gives retailers, investors and policy makers the most accurate and timely information on consumer trends available today.