(Corrects 7th paragraph to show Mid-Atlantic had worst
performance, not Northeast)
Dec 26 As the U.S. holiday season winds down,
retailers are left to hope that post-Christmas sales can help
salvage their worst performance since 2008, preliminary data
Holiday-related sales rose 0.7 percent from Oct. 28 through
Dec. 24, compared with a 2 percent increase last year, according
to data from MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse.
The preliminary estimate from SpendingPulse is in line with
other estimates showing weak growth during the holiday season,
when retailers can book about 30 percent of annual sales and in
many cases half of their profits.
Research firm ShopperTrak said last week it expected an
increase of 2.5 percent, rather than 3.3 percent. And on
Tuesday, the International Council of Shopping Centers and
Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Index said sales rose
only 0.7 percent in the week ended Saturday.
The latest holiday season sales would be the worst
performance since 2008, during the last recession.
"The broad brush was Christmas wasn't all that merry for
retailers, and you have to ask what those margins look like if
the top line didn't meet their expectations. So it could be a
very unmerry Christmas for retailers," said Kim Forrest, senior
equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in
The Mid-Atlantic showed the worst performance, with a 3.9
percent decline, as sales in early November were disrupted by
Superstorm Sandy, which hit the densely populated region in late
Sales recovered in the second part of November, with early
hours and promotions helping drive traffic during the Black
Friday weekend, analysts said.
But there was a deep lull in early December as a winter
storm in parts of the United States may have limited sales, said
Michael McNamara, vice president of research and analysis at
SpendingPulse estimated the 0.7 percent increase in sales
covered apparel, electronics, luxury goods, online and
furnishings across all payment types, including credit cards,
cash and checks.
Aside from the weather, some analysts also said shoppers may
have curbed spending due to concerns about whether Washington
will reach an agreement to avert the "fiscal cliff" of tax hikes
and spending cuts that take effect in the new year.
"Who wants credit card debt in January when there will be 2
percent less in the check plus a year of higher tax rates on
stale incomes," Brian Sozzi, chief equities analyst at NBG
Productions, said in a note to clients.
(Reporting by Brad Dorfman; Additional reporting by Chuck
Mikolajczak; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)