Shoppers head to malls in final runup to Christmas. But Covid hot spots threaten last-minute boost

Shopper traffic to stores on the final Saturday before Christmas dropped 40.9% from a year ago, according to RetailNext.

The need for procrastinating shoppers to get gifts under the tree in time for Christmas was more compelling this year than snagging Black Friday doorbusters.

The number of shoppers who turned up at stores on the final Saturday before Christmas — known as “Super Saturday” in the retail industry — fell from a year ago. But the declines weren’t as steep as those seen on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

In fact, shoppers across the Northeast may have found parking spots at malls hard to come by on Saturday, as snow started to melt from a massive storm that barreled along the East Coast earlier in the week. Lines formed outside stores observing capacity restrictions, and some found shelves bare in categories like board games and toys. These familiar holiday scenes were likely a welcomed sight for retailers, amid signs that an economic recovery that began in the summer has been faltering with Covid-19 cases continuing to surge.

RetailNext, which provides cameras, software and analytics to retailers, said the number of shoppers fell 40.9% compared with the last Saturday before Christmas in 2019. By comparison, traffic was down 48% on Black Friday this year from a year ago, RetailNext said.

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