Holiday Retail Traffic to Fall 2.5%: Research Firm

U.S. stores may seem less crowded this holiday season, with one research firm predicting a 2.5 percent drop in foot traffic this year.

"In terms of traffic, 2007 has been a rather slow year for retailers," said Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak, in a statement. "With rising gasoline prices and consumer confidence continuing to lag behind last year's levels, we don't see this trend changing during the holidays."

ShopperTrak measures foot traffic mainly in mall-based retailers, but it does not capture traffic at many busy big-box retailers like Wal-Mart Stores, Target

and Best Buy.

The ShopperTrak Retail Traffic Index, which forecast the 2.5 percent decline, is based on a sample of more than 50,000 retail and mall locations throughout the United States.

Based on historical data, ShopperTrak expects November foot traffic to decline 4.4 percent, while December should show some recovery with an increase of 1.3 percent.

"Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving, is expected to be the busiest traffic day of the holiday season, and the two Saturdays before Christmas -- Dec. 22 and Dec. 15 -- are forecast to be the next two busiest days of the season.