Holiday shoppers sprint to end; retail revenue up -

Holiday shoppers sprint to end; retail revenue up

   NEW YORK (AP) -- Holiday shoppers are racing to the end of the season at a more feverish pace this year, with retail revenue up 5.5 percent during the last weekend before Christmas.
The figure, released by ShopperTrak on Wednesday, is a drastic improvement from a year ago, when revenue dropped 6.2 percent during the period. The final shopping weekend last year was marred by a big East Coast snowstorm.
ShopperTrak reported shoppers spent $18.83 billion for Dec. 17-19, with $7.58 billion spent on Super Saturday. The number of shoppers rose 3 percent over the weekend before Christmas last year.
But ShopperTrak anticipates this Thursday will likely edge out Super Saturday to become the second-biggest sales day this season behind Black Friday, as last-minute shoppers scramble to pick up gifts. Black Friday sales were $10.69 billion, according to ShopperTrak.
The final days leading up to Christmas are important for retailers. Some can do a third of their annual business during the season. The final countdown to Christmas is especially important. ShopperTrak estimates that the 10 days before Christmas usually make up 31 percent to 34 percent of holiday-season retail revenue.
The Walking Co. store at Circle Centre Mall in downtown Indianapolis has seen a steady flow of customers.
"We're at least breaking even with where we were last year, if not better," manager Robert Stapleton said.
Improved spending is also a sign that the economy may be regaining its footing.
The Commerce Department reported earlier this month that November retail sales rose 0.8 percent, marking the fifth straight monthly gain. Department stores led the way with a 2.8 percent gain, the biggest for this category since a 3 percent increase in November 2008.
   AP Business Writer Tom Murphy contributed to this story from Indianapolis.
   (Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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