SpendingPulse November 2010 Retail Report: November’s Solid Gains Provide Firm Start to the 2010 Holiday Season

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A macroeconomic indicator, SpendingPulse reports on national retail and services sales and is based on aggregate sales activity in the MasterCard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for certain other payment forms, such as cash and check. MasterCard SpendingPulse does not represent MasterCard financial performance. SpendingPulse is provided by MasterCard Advisors, the professional services arm of MasterCard Worldwide.


MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, a macroeconomic report tracking national retail and services sales, today provided summary results for performance of specific U.S. retail industries in November, 2010. From a sector-by-sector point of view, sales in most categories continued to gain momentum over an already strong October showing.

Michael McNamara, Vice President, Research and Analysis for MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, observes, “Industry sales generally did well in November, building on the positive momentum first observed in September that carried through the early fall. The November retail sales gains indicate a solid start to the 2010 Holiday season for most categories, with some recording significant year-over-year gains.”

McNamara continued, “Regarding Black Friday, it is important to keep in mind that this 24-hour period generally represents 5-6% of total retail sales, ex-auto, for the month of November, although there is significant variation by category. Sales tactics that have been developed over the past several years have been increasingly effective at driving sales to make it an almost $19 billion day, ex-auto. But it is becoming harder to post significant year-over-year growth rates for total sales on that specific day. This year, a number of factors such as earlier online and brick-and-mortar promotions may have further diluted the importance of the day itself, distributing sales over a longer period of time.”

Year-over-year Total Apparel sales in November saw another sharp monthly increase. At 9.6% this was the largest year-over-year growth in 2010 for that sector following the previous record in October. Total apparel has enjoyed 8 out of 11 months of year-over-year gains so far in 2010. In November, all of the sub-sectors posted year-over-year growth.

For the second consecutive month, the Consumer Electronics and Appliances segment posted a year-over-year decline, although at -1.1%, it was not as severe as October’s decline. The Consumer Electronics sub-category was down by 1% while the Appliance sub-sector fell by 1.6% year-over-year.

eCommerce was back in double-digit year-over-year growth in November as consumers took advantage of free shipping offers and online-only specials. The category posted a year-over-year increase of 12.0%, the first double-digit growth rate since July, and the largest increase since May. The Apparel sub-category did very well at 22.2%, increasing by double digits for the 12th consecutive month, led mainly by Children’s Apparel at +33.3%, and Footwear at 32.7%. This was the first time since March that growth was over 20% and it was the largest growth rate for the year. Online sales of electronics were up 6.0%, back to the solid growth in September, with growth particularly strong during the Thanksgiving week.

The SpendingPulse Luxury ex-Jewelry Index, which encompasses sales at high-end restaurants, food stores, department stores and general apparel categories, posted positive results in November, although not as robust as October, growing 1.6% year-over-year. While mixed results in the financial markets put pressure on the sector, relatively easy comparisons with last year’s performance helped keep the growth rate positive.

For more on SpendingPulse, please visit: http://www.mastercardadvisors.com/us/advisors/en/merchant_solutions/ms_spendingpulse.html

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Dec 2, 2010