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CE Holiday Sales Up 1.2%: Report

12/28/2010 10:15:30 AM Eastern
New York - CE sales rose a tepid 1.2 percent at retail this holiday season, lagging other consumer product sectors.

According to MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse report, total retail sales rose 5.5 percent from Nov. 5-Dec. 24, led by a 15.4 percent spike in e-commerce sales and buoyed by such categories as apparel and jewelry.

In contrast, CE "was one of the lagging performers," MasterCard said, attributing flat to modest growth rates throughout the holiday season to the decline in TV prices.

"If last year's holiday story was about gaining some stability, this year's is about getting back to growth," said Michael McNamara, research and analysis VP for SpendingPulse.

McNamara also noted that the momentum in 2010 holiday-season spending appeared to have started as early as the second week of November, producing a month of solid growth and persisting through the traditional early December lull.

SpendingPulse sales data includes national retail and services sale, and are based on aggregate sales activity in the MasterCard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for all other payment forms, including cash, check and other credit cards.

A separate report, by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and Goldman Sachs, projects that chain store sales rose better than 4 percent for the November-December period, representing the best showing since 2006.

The research partners project an increase of about 3.5 percent for December, and recorded a 4.8 percent spike the week leading up to Christmas Day, their strongest rate since April 24, 2010.

"Consumers hurried to complete their last minute holiday-gift buying ahead of Christmas Day as many workers had additional shopping time on Christmas Eve, which was a federal holiday for many since Christmas Day fell on a Saturday," said Michael Niemira, ICSC research VP and chief economist. "That last-minute holiday spending lift was aided by consumers who had more money as a result of the improving economy, more time as a result of the Friday holiday and more holiday-season excitement than in many years.

The projections are based on ICSC's and Goldman Sachs' Weekly Chain Store Sales Snapshot, which measures U.S. same-store sales at a statistically representative sample of 40 major retail chains (excluding restaurants and car dealers).
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