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NEW YORK — Last minute shoppers were out in force this past week as they finished up their holiday shopping, giving retailers a strong two-week sales finish to the 2011 holiday season.Overall, for the week ending December 24, 2011 weekly retail sales rose by a solid 0.9 percent, according to International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Index. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales remained positive and relatively steady at 4.5 percent.
"As expected, 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 vice president of research and chief economist. "Overall this holiday season appears to have been a positive one for retailers, though there were some pockets of weakness. Looking ahead, the ICSC-Goldman Sachs consumer tracking survey suggests that consumer gift-card expenditures were higher than in recent years, which suggests gift-card redemption in the coming weeks could be stronger than in recent years too," added Niemira.
For December, ICSC expects that comparable-store sales will increase by 3.5 to 4.0 percent.
The weekly index is constructed as a sales-weighted geometric average growth rate to preserve long-term consistency and is statistically benchmarked to a broad-based monthly retail industry sales aggregate that currently represents approximately 40 retail chain stores. A representative sample of those major retailers has been used as a control group to extrapolate the weekly sales index. The ICSC says that the weekly index statistically represents industry sales and is not just a sum of sales for a handful of retailers.