SHARECOMMENTMORE

NEW YORK (AP) -- After a strong start to the holiday shopping season, sales 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 $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.

The numbers, which don't include online sales, are another challenge in what has been a disappointing season for stores. The two-month period that begins Nov. 1 is important because retailers can make up to 40 percent of their annual revenue.