Sales At U.S. Stores The Week Before Christmas Dropped 3.1% Compared With The Same Week Last Year, Number of Shoppers Fell 21.2 Percent

"Americans who are still worried about the economy have held tightly to their purse strings this year, and store sales have fallen for the past three consecutive weeks"


New York (AP) After a strong start to the season, sales at stores have fallen for three consecutive weeks. That puts a lot of pressure on retailers to get shoppers into stores.

 Stores usually wait until after Christmas to offer discounts of up to 70 percent or more on holiday merchandise that didn't sell. But Americans who are still worried about the economy have held tightly to their purse strings this year, and store sales have fallen for the past three consecutive weeks.

The pre-Christmas deals come as retailers are feeling pressure to attract Americans into stores during the final week of what's typically the busiest shopping period of the year. The two-month stretch that begins on Nov. 1 is important because retailers can make up to 40 percent of their annual sales during that time.

Sales at U.S. stores dropped 3.1 percent to $42.7 billion for the week that ended on Sunday compared with the same week last year, according to ShopperTrak, which tracks data at 40,000 locations. That follows a decline of 2.9 percent and 0.8 percent during the first and second weeks of the month, respectively.

Stores had a problem even getting Americans into stores, let alone getting them to spend. The number of shoppers fell 21.2 percent during the week that ended on Sunday, according to ShopperTrak.