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Shoppers walk with their bags on Black Friday, November 25, 2005 in New York City. - 


BOB MOON:'Tis the season to be a procrastinator. Fa-la-la. A new report shows holiday sales were down last week, but retailers shouldn't panic just yet. Marketplace's Jeff Tyler explains.

JEFF TYLER: Sales at chain-stores fell last week compared to the week before.

A report from the International Council of Shopping Centers also suggests that, compared to last year, fewer folks have bought the bulk of their holiday gifts.

Is this a sign that a slowing economy is cutting into retail sales?

CLAES FORNELL: I would not count the consumer out quite yet.

That's Claes Fornell, professor of business administration at the University of Michigan.

FORNELL: We think that the holiday season will be better than last year. Not that it was particularly good last year. But it will probably be stronger this year, and we predict a spending increase of about three percent for the fourth quarter.

Luckily for store owners, Christmas falls on a Monday this year. That leaves a whole weekend for last-minute shoppers.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

Follow Jeff Tyler at @JeffMarketplace