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Retailers See Silent Nights

Two weeks have passed since Black Friday, the so-called official kickoff of the holiday season, and since that time shoppers have been sitting on the sidelines.

And as the second shopping weekend of December looms, industry analysts say consumers may continue to take a break before a mad dash of shopping closer to Christmas.

Sales dipped 2.6% for the week ended Dec. 2 from the previous week, according to a report from the International Council of Shopping Centers and UBS Securities, though sales advanced 3.1% year over year.

Industry analysts say shoppers are waiting for retailers to slash prices. Since Christmas falls on a Monday, there's one extra weekend to get last-minute shopping done, so consumers don't have the same sense of urgency they might have had in previous years.

In addition, the weather in many parts of the country has been unseasonably warm in recent weeks, making the holidays seem more distant than they really are.

Michael Niemira, the ICSC's chief economist and director of research, said earlier this week that only 25% of consumers surveyed have completed only 50% or more of their total holiday shopping thus far, well below last year's figure of 32%.

"This benchmark suggests consumers are procrastinating a little more than in recent years and potentially suggests a stronger late wave of holiday buying," he said in a statement.
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