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Holiday Retail Sales May Increase Smallest Amount Since 2009

Sept. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Retail sales are projected to advance 2.4 percent this holiday season, the smallest increase since 2009, as shoppers visit fewer stores.

Customer traffic in November and December may decline 1.4 percent from the same period a year earlier, ShopperTrak, a Chicago-based researcher, said in a statement today. Holiday sales have risen at least 3 percent after declining 1.2 percent in 2009 and 6.2 percent in 2008 amid the recession.

Retailers may begin offering promotions for holiday shopping as early as Nov. 1 this year to take advantage of a shorter shopping season, ShopperTrak estimates. This year there are 25 days between Black Friday and Christmas compared with 31 in 2012, and four instead of five weekends. Hanukkah starts 11 days earlier than last year.

“Everybody’s kind of battening down the hatches to prepare for a knock-down, drag-out fight for sales,” Dorothy Lakner, a New York-based analyst at Topeka Capital Markets, said today in a phone interview. “Are retailers going to be promotional? Yes. Will they start early? Yes, that’s probably true, too.”

Holiday sales and store shopper activity account for about 20 percent of annual retail activity, ShopperTrak said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lindsey Rupp in New York at lrupp2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at rajello@bloomberg.net

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