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Retailers report lackluster holiday sales

Retailers report lackluster holiday sales

The run-up to Christmas seemed more like a jog for many retailers statewide, with 52 percent of them

The run-up to Christmas seemed more like a jog for many retailers statewide, with 52 percent of them reporting sales better than or the same as those a year earlier, compared with 72 percent in 2006.

A lackluster week before Christmas made the already chilly shopping sentiment feel colder as retailers gave the holiday season a “C+” letter grade. Last year’s season received a “B,” according to a Retail Council of New York survey released Wednesday.

After the housing slump and high energy costs stunted sales during the two weeks after the Black Friday weekend, New York retailers had high hopes for the week before Christmas. But only half of survey respondents said sales for that week met their expectations, compared with 71 percent a year earlier. Poor weather was also blamed for the season’s soft sales.

“Although it was a modest sales season for many of our members, given the economic hurdles the industry had been facing for much of the year, it could have been worse,” Retail Council President and Chief Executive Officer James Sherin said in a statement.

The Retail Council’s final Holiday Sales Report caps what had been expected to be a less profitable season. But it did end on a high note, with nearly 75 percent of retailers saying their after-Christmas sales were the same or better than a year ago.

Overall, 60 percent of retailers statewide said their holiday sales were better than or the same as those in 2006. The National Retail Foundation in Washington projected a 4 percent spending increase — the softest holiday sales growth since 2001. ShopperTrak in Chicago last week said holiday sales appeared to be on course to meet its 3.6 increase projection, compared with 4.8 percent in 2006.

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