A recent Reuters article noted a modest rise in holiday shopping this year, following a rather dismal 2008 season. In particular, writers Phil Wahba and Jessica Wohl highlighted the results of recent study by SpendingPulse, which tracks activity in the MasterCard Inc payment networks.
Overall, the results showed an increase of 3.6 percent for retail sales over last year for the period November 1 to December 24. Last year, SpendingPulse recorded a decrease in spending at about 2.3 percent. But, while spending was up this year from 2008, Kamalesh Rao, director of economic research at Spending Pulse, says that levels are still far below those of 2007:
"Last year the economy and consumer spending were in free fall. This year we're talking about an environment that has stabilized. That has seen a leveling off.”
Essentially, experts are saying that, while retailers aren’t overly optimistic, they seem less concerned than they previously were. Marshal Cohen, NPD Group chief retail analyst, described the overall sentiments of this shopping season in one word: “adequate.”
Additionally, according to Wedbush, which observed store traffic in four different markets this year, mall traffic increased considerably over last weekend as last minute shoppers scrambled to get their needed items. December 26 saw shoppers buying more items than they were returning, many purchases of which were at full-price. While this might be a positive sign, it remains difficult to say what the holiday season has actually meant for retailers’ bottom line.
One standout from the recent holiday shopping season, is online shopping, which grew by a reported 15% this year, according to SpendingPulse. Presumably, consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with purchasing online. To showcase a few online sectors;: luxury sales rose 0.8 percent; jewelry sales spiked 5.6 percent; and, mens apparel sales improved by 3.9 percent.
Via Phil Wahba and Jessica Wohl @ Reuters