Early Reports Indicate a Good Holiday Season For Retailers

As reported in the New York Times: The nation’s stores appear to have fared better this holiday shopping season than last year, according to early figures reported on Sunday. Major retailing categories had modest sales increases, while others fell slightly but still showed improvement. Over all, retail sales from November through Dec. 24 rose 3.6 percent from last year, according to SpendingPulse, an information service of MasterCard Advisors that estimates sales for all forms of payment, including cash, checks and credit cards. That number was helped this year by an extra shopping day between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Adjusting the results for that extra day cuts the retailing industry’s sales increase to about 1 percent, in line with what many retailing professionals expected. While the numbers do not suggest a turnaround for the industry, they signal an improvement over last year’s 2.3 percent sales decline. Despite that promising news, some consumers interviewed in stores over the weekend said they were exchanging their Christmas presents for everyday necessities and were continuing to curb their spending — suggesting that America’s retailers were still recovering from the deep economic recession. A clearer picture of consumer spending over the holiday season will emerge in January, when major chain stores report their December sales...

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...