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ShopperTrak ups holiday forecast on early traffic

Chicago -- Better-than-expected response to early sales promotions mixed with relatively mild weather throughout the country are already driving holiday traffic to malls and retail outlets have caused ShopperTrak to up its 2010 holiday forecast.

According to the company’s Retail Sales Estimate (NRSE), sales during the upcoming holiday shopping season are now expected to increase 3.2% this year (up from the 2.9% originally anticipated). Meanwhile, ShopperTrak’s Retail Traffic Index is forecasting a 1.0% traffic increase for the same period (a substantial rise from the previously expected 0.1% decline).

In analyzing the top-performing traffic and sales days of the holiday shopping season since 2003, ShopperTrak predicts Black Friday (Nov. 26), Thursday, Dec. 23 and Super Saturday, or the Saturday before Christmas, (Dec. 18) will be the strongest sales days. The company also reports Black Friday will post the strongest daily foot traffic, followed by Super Saturday and Saturday, Dec. 11.

According to ShopperTrak, the 2010 calendar shift could strongly influence season performance this year as Christmas falls on a Saturday, meaning retailers lose a critical selling period late in the season. Conversely, the annually strong day after Christmas now falls on a Sunday, which history suggests will attract bigger sales and more customers than the regular Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s.

“Although retailers are losing a Saturday this year, the day after Christmas provides an enormous selling opportunity and retailers who plan promotions and store operations wisely on this day will undoubtedly have a leg up this season,” said Bill Martin, co-founder of 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 proprietary industry intelligence.

The ShopperTrak Retail Traffic Index measures traffic across five separate retail segments including total U.S. retailing.

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