A winter storm that blasted the Midwest and Northeast caused store traffic to fall last week just as retailers headed into the crucial final days of the holiday shopping season, according to data released Wednesday.
ShopperTrak RCT, which tracks sales at more than 50,000 U.S. retail locations, said retail sales for the week ending Dec. 15, fell 0.4 percent compared with the same period last year. Total U.S. traffic for the same period fell 8.9 percent, it said.
A snowstorm blanketed parts of the Midwestern United States last week and then barreled into New England, bringing snow, freezing rain and high winds -- and hampering shoppers' ability to get to stores.
That drop in traffic puts more pressure on "Super Saturday" -- the last Saturday before Christmas, which is typically the biggest shopping day of the season.
"We expect procrastinating consumers will make the upcoming Super Saturday weekend a significant event for retailers, putting us right on pace to hit our preseason holiday prediction of a 3.6 percent retail sales increase over last year," Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak, said in a statement.
ShopperTrak said sales for the week ending Dec. 15 compared with the previous week ending Dec. 8, rose 15.2 percent, while store traffic rose 14.1 percent on that same basis.