Holiday Retail Sales

SpendingPulse, a division of MasterCard Advisors that tracks total sales paid for by credit card, checks and cash, said its preliminary data indicates that retail sales declined between 5.5% and 8% this past holiday season compared with last year. However, SpendingPulse said the decline was slightly less steep, between 2% and 4%, when auto and gas sales were excluded. The figures included grocery, restaurant and specialty food sales, which gave overall sales a lift. ShopperTrak reported that sales from Friday, December 19 through Sunday, December 21 fell 5.3% compared with the prior year’s final weekend before Christmas. U.S. foot traffic during these days fell a whopping 23.7%, despite heavy discounting and longer store hours, ShopperTrak added.

E-commerce sales ended down 2.3%, but rose 1.8% in the final two weeks, SpendingPulse added. Meanwhile comScore reported that online spending declined 1% from November 1 through December 21, compared to prior years when Internet sales climbed significantly. Early reports indicate that the day after Christmas may have been the busiest shopping day of the holiday season, as consumers looked to take advantage of heavy discounts.

Women’s apparel sales fell 22.7% while men’s clothing sales were off 14.3%, and footwear sales fell 13.5%, SpendingPulse said.