U.S. retail rises by 6% for December

U.S. retail sales for the month of December, rose by an impressive 6% over the same month in 2002, ShopperTrak reported in its National Retail Sales Estimate (NRSE). While final numbers for the season are not yet in, industry experts believe that the strength of this number, combined with a strong November performance, will make the 2003 holiday season the most profitable since 1999.

“Holiday sales came through in a big way late in the season,” said Michael Niemira, lead consultant for ShopperTrak. “Now it remains to be seen whether sales in the coming months fall off a bit given low remaining clearance inventories for many retailers. That however, should be taken as a positive sign for the industry, not a negative one.”

ShopperTrak also reported that sales for the week ending Jan. 3 reflected the traditional “post-Christmas slowdown”, while at the same time providing the promise of an extended holiday season resulting from gift card redemptions. Sales for the week ending Jan. 3 fell by 35.1% on a difficult comparison to the previous week, which included the days surrounding Christmas, but year-over year sales for the same week jumped by a dramatic 46.5% on the strength of gift card redemptions.

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.