Retail Sales Climbed 3.6 Percent During Holidays

Some retailers may have warned about a sluggish holiday season in 2016, but First Data released its own data that shows sales increased in both November and December within expectations.

According to a report looking at the First Data information, First Data said retail spending climbed 3.6 percent during the holidays, which meshes with the forecast from the National Retail Federation. First Data was able to make its assessment based on information from greater than 942,000 cash registers.

First Data found the increase in holiday spending was driven by the internet, with online shopping increasing 12 percent compared to last year. Spending at physical stores increased 1.6 percent. When including non-retail spending, such as money spent on travel and activities, spending jumped 4.7 percent. First Data noted the latter increase also included spending on gas. In terms of the categories that performed the best, First Data pointed to building materials, electronics and appliance stores as seeing most of the uptick. Health and personal care stores also saw an uptick in spending during the holidays. General merchandise stores did the worst, with sales declining during the holidays at department stores. The report noted department stores sales declined 4.8 percent with clothing and accessories struggling.

That assessment meshes with what Macy’s and Kohl’s had to say about the holiday shopping season. Last week, Macy’s shares tanked, taking other retailers down with it, after slashing its earnings outlook and announcing it will reduce its workforce by 6,200, or 4 percent. According to a report, Macy’s was prompted to lower its guidance after a slow holiday season. Macy’s now expects profit of $2.95–$3.10 a share, which is lower than the $3.40 a share it had previously projected.

Kohl’s also slashed its outlook, which sent shares down 10 percent. According to MarketWatch, the company expects 2016 earnings of $2.92–$2.97 a share, down from the past guidance of $3.12–$3.32 a share. The company also cited weakness during the holiday selling season.


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