Report: Consumers spent $44 billion on holiday 2011

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Chicago -- Thanks to a last-minute shopping rush, Christmas 2011 will likely outpace its prior-year counterpart. According to a report released Wednesday by ShopperTrak, consumers spent approximately $44 billion in GAFO retail sales for the week ending Dec. 24, a 37.8% increase over the previous week and a 14.8% gain over the same week last year.

Foot traffic was also high, increasing 32.4% from the previous week.

The last-minute sales increase ensured this December will outpace December 2010. Month-to-date figures are up 4.7% over December 2010.

“Holiday shopping reached a climax last week,” said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin. “With good weather in most of the country and the season coming to a close, procrastinators and bargain hunters hit the stores and gave retailers the sales lift they needed to outpace last year.”

According to ShopperTrak, a late holiday shopping surge is not uncommon. Last year, the 10 days before Christmas accounted for 24.4% of total GAFO retail sales in the entire holiday shopping season of November and December.

“Increased foot-traffic does not always translate into sales,” said Martin. “Retailers who monitored their foot-traffic hourly and adjusted inventory and staffing to convert shoppers into buyers were the most successful last week.”

As expected, shoppers came out in full force on the day after Christmas because it fell on a Monday for the first time in six years. The day ranked fourth in foot-traffic and sales for the entire holiday season, behind Black Friday, Nov. 26, Friday, Dec. 23 and Super Saturday, Dec. 17. Foot traffic increased 25.9% over the same day last year and consumers spent $7.1 billion on Dec. 26 in GAFO retail sales, an increase of 25.5% over the same day last year.