New York - Sales for electronics and appliance dealers rose 1.4 percent in November and December, while foot traffic fell by 0.8 percent, ShopperTrak reported.
The market research firm attributed the traffic declines to few highly anticipated CE products hitting store shelves during the holiday selling season and an abundance of value-conscious shoppers who searched for deeper discounts online.
"We know stores saw less foot-traffic and increases in sales during the holiday season, indicating consumers were focused and took fewer trips," said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin.
The firm estimates that consumers spent $251.4 billion dollars in total retail sales, representing a 3.5 percent increase over Holiday 2010.
The season started with four straight weeks of year-over-year sales gains in November, culminating in a 4.4 percent increase over Thanksgiving week to $134.2 billion in transactions, ShopperTrak said. Sales lagged in early December due to a late Hanukkah and spent holiday budgets following the Black Friday weekend splurge.
Sales surged late in the season, with the week before Christmas seeing the period's largest year-over-year sales gain of 14.4 percent, yielding $193.7 billion in transactions, the research group said.
But while shoppers bought more, they browsed less, ShopperTrak counts at 25,000 retail locations revealed. In-store foot-traffic decreased 3.1 percent during the 2011 holiday season, due to a 13 percent increase in average fuel prices and the tendency for consumer to pre-shop online and then visit stores with in-stock merchandise and the best values, Martin surmised.
The only period with a year-over-year gain in shopper traffic was the week ending Dec. 24, as late season shoppers procrastinated or sought out last-minute deals, the company said.
Separately, the National Retail Federation (NRF) is projecting that retail industry sales will rise 3.4 percent to $2.5 trillion in 2012, slightly lower than the pace of 2011 in which sales grew 4.7 percent.