Retail has off week in critical month

Dec. 4, 2012 at 11:35 AM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- U.S. retail sales slipped sharply during the week that ended Saturday, a Washington retail trade group said.

Sales receipts dropped a "hefty" 3.1 percent week-to-week, the International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs weekly consumer tracking survey said.

From the same week of 2011, sales rose 3.2 percent. However, consumers are not keeping up with the pace of holiday gift-buying as they did in 2011, the report said.

"Overall consumer traffic was lower than during the same week of the prior year with weakness at discounters, department stores, dollar stores and online," the trade group said.

Further, the report said consumers "fell behind the prior year's pace of holiday gift completion."

That implies sales could pick up before the holidays are here, given more consumers have more shopping to do at this point compared to 2011.

In 2011 at this point on the calendar, 46 percent of consumers in a survey indicated they had completed their holiday shopping. This year, 37 percent indicate they are done shopping for the holidays.

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