It may not be over yet, but retailers are breathing a sigh of relief and celebrating a successful holiday season, thanks to a last-minute surge in sales.
Online sales during the final week before Christmas hit $2.8 billion, up 16% from last year, according to ComScore, while mall shoppers spent about $44 billion in the week ending Dec. 24, a 14.8% increase over the same week in 2010, according to ShopperTrak, which tracks foot traffic at malls and stores.
Overall, retail sales rose 4.5% year-over-year, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs Retail Chain Store Sales Index.
After the initial rush for doorbuster deals and other discounts, persistently high unemployment, the weak housing market, Europe’s debt crisis and uncertainty about the economy weighed on shoppers, especially in the lower income brackets.
Holiday sales only picked up again right before Christmas, the ICSC report said — helped in part by mild weather and an extra shopping day on Saturday, when many stores extended hours.
“Holiday shopping went down to the wire as consumers took advantage of the full shopping week ahead of Christmas Day, which fell on a Sunday this year,” said Michael Niemira, ICSC’s chief economist.
Overall shopping visits increased by 6.5% in the week ended Monday, Dec. 26, according to a separate report from the NPD Group Tuesday.
In addition, shoppers shelled out more during each trip to the mall. The average amount spent per visit was up 4.7% from the prior week, the largest week over week increase since the week of Nov. 28, which included Black Friday, NPD said.