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National retail sales during the 2013 holiday shopping season grew by 2.7 percent, according to data released this week by ShopperTrak – which bills itself as “the leading global provider of shopper insights and analytics.”

That’s the fourth consecutive year of holiday sales growth – and a better finish than the 2.4 percent increase ShopperTrak predicted heading into the 2013 season.  It’s also better than the organization’s 2.5 percent growth estimate from the previous year.

All told, Americans shelled out $265.9 billion during November and December last year – this despite a precipitous 14.6 percent drop in foot traffic at brick-and-mortar retail outlets.  Online retail spending made up some of that deficit – climbing 10 percent to $46.5 billion over the same period (although ShopperTrak had projected a 14 percent jump).

As with last year, discounts drove the increase – which is good for the final sales numbers but not-so-good for the companies hoping to reap huge profits from the holiday season.

“Consumers took a break from shopping after Thanksgiving weekend, so retailers were pressured to offer deep discounts and promotions in the final week before Christmas to finish the holiday on a positive note,” said ShopperTrak founder Bill Rodgers.

Moving forward, ShopperTrak projects a 2.8 percent increase in retail sales during the first quarter of 2014.