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Holiday Sales No Gift to Retailers

By Billy Gil | Posted: 29 Dec 2008

A MasterCard SpendingPulse report says holiday sales fell by 2-4% compared to last year’s holiday season, excluding gas, making for the worst holiday shopping drop in nearly 40 years, according to Pali Research.

Consumer electronics, in particular, took a big hit. The report, which tracked retail and service sales nationally for the period between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24, 2008, showed sales of electronics and appliances declining more than 26% compared to 2007’s holiday season.

“Sales above $1,000 have been a consistent drag on this sector throughout the season,” said Michael McNamara, VP of research and analysis for SpendingPulse.

A snowstorm that hit the Midwest and Northeast the weekend before Christmas compounded the drop.

“A difficult economic environment combined with unfavorable weather during the last week of shopping made 2008 one of the most challenging holiday shopping seasons in decades,” McNamara said.

Additionally the National Retail Federation estimated that gift card sales may be as much as 5.3% lower than last year’s holiday season.

“This was ... not a holiday season that will go down as a big success,” said Rob Enderle, independent analyst with Enderle Group in San Jose, Calif. “The industry will likely change a lot by the end of 2009 as marginal vendors are either acquired or shut their doors.”

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