Retail sales news is upbeat


Now that the Christmas shopping season is in the books, the first report on how retailers fared is a good one. SpendingPulse, owned by MasterCard, reports that retail sales from the beginning of November through Christmas Eve were up 3.6% over last year.

The data from SpendingPulse showed year-over-year growth in the period between Black Friday through December 24 in all sectors measured. In addition, six out of 10 sectors showed positive growth in the period from November 1 through December 24. Tempering these results, however, the research firm warned, is the fact that there was an extra day this year over last year’s holiday season. Adjusting for this could decrease the season’s year over-year-growth statistics by anywhere from 2% to 4%.

“Overall this year, we have seen increasing stability in spending, as opposed to the free-fall of 2008. This is especially significant considering that prices have been holding up this season, without the broad emergency discounting that consumers benefited from during the 2008 holiday season,” said Michael McNamara, Vice President, Research and Analysis for SpendingPulse.

He pointed to several anomalies in the season this year. “The extra shopping day may have given some lift to overall year-over-year comparisons. Also, early discounting in 2008 drew holiday spending into early November, while this year shopping didn’t really take off until Black Friday. That shift in sales patterns is one of the factors that made November of this year look weak, and December look stronger. That’s why it’s important to look at numbers for November and December combined. Finally, several major winter storms disrupted traffic to brick and mortar locations that seemed to benefit online shopping growth rates,” McNamara noted.

RBR-TVBR observation: Good news for retailers is always good news for broadcasters. The recovery is taking hold very slowly, but after such a long wait, there is relief that it has finally arrived.