The first week of December, typically a lackluster time in the wake of Black Friday, was particularly slow. Sales for the week ended Dec. 5 fell 18% from the prior-week period, which included Black Friday, according to market researcher ShopperTrak RCT Corp. Last year, when the recession was in full force, sales fell a lesser 14%, according to the firm, which compiles shopping traffic at malls and uses sales statistics, as well as Commerce Department figures, for its estimate.
“After solid traffic the first couple of days, it looks like the middle of August out there,” said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis for retail watcher NPD Group.
Sales this season got off to a slow start in November, inching up just 0.7% over the prior-year period, according to market researcher Retail Metrics Inc. November mall traffic fell 6.1% over the year-ago period, according to ShopperTrak. Experts report similar trends for December.