Consumers spent a majority of last week recovering from "Black Weekend" holiday shopping. ShopperTrak reported that for the week of Dec. 2 to Dec. 8, brick-and-mortar retail sales of general merchandise, apparel, furniture and other products decreased 2.9 percent compared with the same time last year. Last week's retail shopper traffic decreased 21.6 percent compared with the same time period in 2012.

Shopping activity for the week ending Dec. 8 returned to expected seasonal levels following the previous week, which contained a surge of in-store activity across Thanksgiving Day and Black Weekend. "Cyber Monday" (Dec. 2) started the week with a focus on online shopping, causing many retailers to offer in-store promotions intended to entice customers to complete their holiday shopping early in December in their stores.

"Shoppers usually take a brief break in the week after Black Weekend," said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder. "Lighter crowds and many in-store deals, however, helped Saturday, Dec. 7 see a 1.4 percent sales increase compared to the same day in 2012."

Despite the encouraging uptick in sales on Saturday, calendar changes in 2013 contributed to the past week's overall declines in retail sales and traffic. Hanukkah began on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28) — 11 days earlier than last year. So, consumers completed their pre-Hanukkah shopping in November rather than early December, as they did in 2012.

"The movement of Hanukkah into November caused some inevitable declines in sales and traffic in the first week of December," said Martin. "However, with the shortened Christmas shopping season now in full swing, shoppers can't procrastinate like they did last year. As we approach the holiday, we expect that shopper activity will increase each week."

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