Procrastinators and internet shoppers saved the day this holiday season, transforming what was a slow start into the best holiday season for retailers in years.
That’s according to the Wall Street Journal, which reported estimates from research firms focused on the retail market indicate sales growth during the holidays that may be the best since 2005. “American consumers are once again proving many of the pundits wrong, as shoppers flock both to websites and to stores — and not just for returns,” said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, in the WSJ report. “They are shopping at a rate not seen since the mid-2000s.”
Customer Growth Partners now expects holiday sales growth to come in at 4.9 percent, up from 4.1 percent. That would represent the largest growth since 2005 when sales increased 6.1 percent, noted the report.
Meanwhile, Mastercard found in its SpendingPulse survey that retail sales, which exclude cars and gas, increased 4 percent. On a gloomier note, the survey found sales results in the days after Christmas aren’t as strong as expected. Men’s apparel and home furnishings lead the sales charge during the holidays, while jewelry sales took a hit, Mastercard found.
The appetite to shop on the part of consumers comes at a time when their confidence in the economy is improving. In December, the consumer confidence index reached a high not seen since August 2001 as consumers expressed more optimism in job growth and increases in their income.
Although retail sales overall will likely come in higher than expected, not every retailer benefited from the late shopping surge. According to Customer Growth Partners, department stores sagged during the holidays with more woes to come as online continues to grow in usage. Mastercard expects online sales to see a 19 percent increase this holiday season, while Customer Growth Partners is forecasting an increase of 15 percent, reported the WSJ.