We are still weeks away until we get all of the hard data about the holiday retail sales season, but the early numbers are trickling in. It appears that it was not a very merry Shopmas. We certainly did not see the 13% the National Retail Federation claimed was occurring this season.
Some of the early data:
• For October 28 through Christmas Eve, retail sales for the holidays rose just 0.7% versus 2011 (MasterCard SpendingPulse, a measure of credit card usage)
• 2012 looks like the worst holiday-shopping season since 2009, with sales up ~2.8% versus 5.8% jump in 2011 (Customer Growth Partners uses mixed sources)
• Online shopping was up, with estimates ranging from 8.4% (SpendingPulse) to 16% (comScore) Note that online adoption has been driving double digit gains for the past decade plus, and 16% was below average.
The WSJ reports that there were lots of discounting going on as well; this is a double whammy, suggesting soft sales and pressure on margins.
Its still early, and the data could in theory improve. We should hear from retailers starting next week. We get ICSC-Goldman Store Sales at 7:45AM on January 8th, and the Retail Sales report will be released January 15th at 8:30AM.
I’ll keep watching the retail sale data as it trickles out — but its safe to say that the ridiculous NRF claim of a spending increase of 13% was utter, unmitigated nonsense. (Do they exist solely to embarrass journalists?).
More to come in the New Year. . .
Black Friday Skepticism (Finally!) Goes Mainstream (November 23rd, 2012)
Black Friday’s Media Hall of Shame (November 28th, 2012)
November Sales Disappoint; What Happened to Black Friday’s 13%? (November 30th, 2012)
Early Data Show Weak Holiday Sales
WSJ December 25, 2012
Economy Weighs on Shoppers in Final Holiday Dash to Mall
Bloomberg Dec 24, 2012