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US holiday sales fall for third consecutive week

NEW YORK -- After a strong start to the holiday shopping season, sales at stores have fallen for the third consecutive week as Americans continue to hold back on spending during what is traditionally the busiest buying period of the year.

Sales at U.S. stores dropped 3.1 percent to US$42.7 billion for the week that ended on Sunday compared with the same week last year, according to ShopperTrak, which tracks data at 40,000 locations. That follows a decline of 2.9 percent and 0.8 percent during the first and second weeks of the month, respectively.

Retailers started the season cautiously optimistic. But after a strong start through most of November — ShopperTrak said sales were up 3.4 percent for the month — retailers have found it increasingly hard to attract shoppers into stores despite big discounts and expanded hours during the final days.

Shoppertrak estimates that holiday sales at stores so far are up 2 percent to US$218.4 billion compared with the same period last year.

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