Don't count out the holiday season, yet.
After somewhat disappointing—and certainly controversial—initial sales projections were released for the Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping period, fresh data from analytics firm ShopperTrak found that November sales increased 5.4 percent compared to the prior year.
"The early push in the season has helped to offset a slightly underperforming Thanksgiving weekend," said Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak. "We saw seven days in the month of November with higher shopper visits than the previous year, which shows that the trend toward fewer visits per shopping trip is stabilized."
ShopperTrak had previously announced that Thanksgiving and Black Friday's combined sales reached $12.29 billion, an 0.5 percent decline from the prior year. At that time, the group also emphasized that people should remain cautious about viewing a single day or two as indicative of the entire season.
Martin noted that in 2013, Black Friday weekend produced a modest 1 percent gain, according to the firm's data, but registered a 3.1 percent gain for the season. On Tuesday, Martin said that only about 45 percent of the season's sales have taken place, noting that seven of the anticipated Top 10 sales days remain ahead.
Industry experts and retailers have openly questioned the validity of early sales data—in particular, a report from the National Retail Federation. The industry trade group, which derived its data through a poll of 4,631 consumers, said that sales over Black Friday weekend fell 11 percent.
ShopperTrak compiles its data from retailers' sales logs, though it doesn't account for online sales. It works with more than 1,000 retailers, malls and entertainment venues.