Editor's Note

For U.S. retailers, it may have been a blue Christmas. Despite a last-minute shopping burst that gave merchants a much-needed boost, 2007 will still go down in the books as a lackluster holiday at retail.

ShopperTrak, which tracks 50,000 retail units, said retail sales will rise 3.6 percent this holiday season, trailing the 4.8 percent gain of 2006.

Although retail sales surged 18.7 percent the weekend before Christmas, “the weekend sales performance continued the trend of year-over-year softness seen the last two weeks, with the week ending Dec. 22 slipping 2.2 percent as compared to the same period in 2006,” according to a ShopperTrak press release.

MasterCard Advisor’s SpendingPulse report, which also measures retail sales, issued the same 3.6 percent gain, measuring total retail sales from Black Friday to midnight Dec. 24. That number was at the lower end of its expected range.

But it’s not over yet. Retailers reported huge sales of gift cards this season, which are not counted in sales until they are redeemed. Also, Internet sales, which continue to grow year to year, may have a significant impact when final holiday sales are tallied.

Michael Browne
Managing Editor

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