U.S. Weekend Mall Traffic in November Rose From Last Year

U.S. weekend mall traffic so far this month is higher than it was a year ago, in a sign that consumers' finances may have improved enough to boost sales for Black Friday and the 2010 holiday season.

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Mall traffic for Saturday, Nov. 20, was about 16% more than it was for the corresponding day a year earlier, while foot traffic for Saturday, Nov. 6, was about 65% higher, Thomson Reuters said, citing a survey it conducted with Remote Sensing Metrics. The month's second Saturday, Nov. 13, had about 5% less traffic than a year earlier.

The mall-traffic figures suggest retailers may see an increase in holiday-season spending over 2009. U.S. consumer spending in October rose about 7% from September, according to a Gallup poll released Nov. 11. Meanwhile, the U.S. Commerce Department on Tuesday revised its third-quarter gross domestic product growth figure up to 2.5% from its earlier estimate of 2%. Earlier, the Commerce Department said third-quarter consumer spending increased at its fastest pace in almost four years.

Many retailers are gearing up for more foot traffic. Last month, retailer Kohls Corps (KSS) said it would bring in about 40,000 temporary workers for the holidays. Toys R Us said in late September that it would hire about 45,000 temporary workers for the season.

Black Friday tends to attract about 50% more foot traffic than the previous Saturday, according to Thomson Reuters. Last year, Black Friday mall traffic fell about 12% from 2008's Black Friday after the previous two Saturdays showed gains from corresponding days in 2008, Thomson Reuters said.