By Michelle Graff
Chicago--ShopperTrak, a firm that has devices installed in stores across the country to count the number of people coming in, said that both retail sales and foot traffic were down last week due in large part to the weekend snowstorm.

For the week of Dec. 9 to 15, retail sales of general merchandise, apparel, furniture and other products at brick-and-mortar stores were down 1 percent as compared with the same period last year.

Meanwhile, in-store shopper traffic fell sharply, declining by nearly 20 percent when compared with the same period in 2012.

Hit especially hard were sales and traffic on Saturday, Dec. 14, when heavy snow fell across the Midwest and Northeast. Retail sales fell more than 5 percent compared with the same day last year while traffic was down by 26 percent.

“Only one weekend remains before Christmas for shoppers to check everything off their holiday lists,” said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin. “Shoppers will plan and focus their store visits on getting items they want at the best values. It will be critical for retailers to provide the best experience for shoppers motivated to complete their holiday shopping by adequately staffing for the surge in traffic and ensuring merchandise is stocked and easily accessible.”

The fact that many consumers didn’t get out last weekend to utilize one of the last shopping weekends of the holiday season because of the snow could kick holiday shopping into high gear between now and Christmas, especially as the National Retail Federation reports that 65 percent of consumers still have some shopping to do over the next few days.

According to the NRF’s latest holiday survey, in addition to the 10 percent of consumers who say they’ll finish on Christmas Eve, 29 percent of consumers plan to finish shopping on Dec. 18, 14 percent on Dec. 20 and 12 percent on Dec. 21.

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