Holiday sales down for 3rd week

Retailers have found it increasingly hard to attract shoppers into stores
Associated Press
Dec 24, 2013

Stores are hoping Americans who've been tight-fisted with their money will get the last-minute itch to buy in the final week of the holiday shopping season.

After a strong start to the season, sales at stores have fallen for three consecutive weeks. That puts a lot of pressure on retailers to get shoppers into stores in the final days of what's typically the busiest shopping period of the year.

Sales at U.S. stores dropped 3.1 percent to $42.7 billion for the week that ended on Sunday compared with the same week last year, according to ShopperTrak, which tracks data at 40,000 locations. That follows a decline of 2.9 percent and 0.8 percent during the first and second weeks of the month, respectively.

The numbers, which don't include online sales, are another challenge in what has largely turned out to be a disappointing holiday shopping season for stores. The two-month period that begins on Nov. 1 is important for retailers because they can make up to 40 percent of their annual sales during that time.

Retailers started the season cautiously optimistic after a strong start in November — ShopperTrak said sales were up 3.4 percent for the month. But in the final days, retailers have found it increasingly hard to attract shoppers into stores even though some like Toys R Us have rolled out big discounts, while others like Kohl's have stayed open for dozens of hours straight since the weekend.

None of that seemed to lure shoppers. At the Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus, N.J. on Saturday, Abercrombie & Fitch, AnnTaylor and Express had 50 percent sales, while Aeropostale was discounting its entire assortment up to 70 percent.

Still, Barbara Jackson, 45, was spending cautiously. She said she's capping her holiday budget at $1,500 — half of what she spent last year. That's because Jackson, an aide to the elderly, is earning less than last year.

"I am more budget conscious," Jackson said.

Karen McDonald, a spokeswoman at Taubman Centers, which owns or operates 28 malls, estimated that business for the week that ended Sunday was unchanged to mid-single digit percentage growth compared with a year ago.

"I felt for sure it was going to be gangbusters. But it was just OK," McDonald said.

Shoppertrak estimates that holiday sales at stores so far are up 2 percent to $218.4 billion compared with the same period last year. That's below the 2.4 percent forecast for the two-month period, but the company is standing by that estimate with a few days left before Christmas and a little over a week before the season ends.

The National Retail Federation, the nation's largest retail group, also said it's sticking with its forecast that sales in stores and online will be up 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion.

But even online sales, which had been a bright spot for much of the season, aren't growing at the expected pace. Online spending from home and work desktop computers in the U.S. from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15 was up 9 percent from the same period last year to $37.8 billion, according to the most available data from comScore.

That's below the 14 percent growth that the Internet research firm is forecasting for the season. The company still expects online sales to grow at that pace for the season, but the category only accounts for about 11 percent of spending in the three months that include the holiday shopping season.

Final sales figures for the holiday shopping season are expected in January.

Comments

bondgirlM

But economy has recovered. Obama said so!

The Bizness

Maybe people are sick of consumerism.

sugar

The economy is doing GREAT!!! LMAO!

toredown11

I think a lot of us are still waiting for all that wealth to trickle down to us!

I haven't seen a raise in three years, yet my company's profits are up just as they've been every year since the Great Recession hit. The owners tell us that they're not issuing raises because they're uncertain of the U.S. economy. I guess it's no wonder that they're uncertain; we did have a government shutdown recently and another debt limit crisis is looming.

It's Economics 101 - put more money in the hands of the lower and middle income families and they'll spend it. The top 4% can only spend so much.

sugar

Yes lets all vote Democrat so the taxes they impose trickle their way down to the middle class. Keynesian Economics does not work, we have been trying it for 6 years now.

toredown11

Sugar, your point that Keynesian Economics does not work because we've been trying it for the past six years holds no credibility. To say that we've been under Keynesian Economics for the past six years is simply not true. Quite the opposite, in fact, as the Republicans have made sure of that. The only Keynesian policy that has been enacted since the president took office is the stimulus package that lowered taxes for lower and middle income families as well as for small businesses. I, along with many of the country's top economists, would argue that the stimulus package helped to turn the economic catastrophe that Obama inherited around and put us on a path to recovery. Unfortunately, when the Republicans took control in 2010, anything that even remotely looked Keynesian was rolled back and we were back to the same trickle-down economics that we had during both the Reagan and Bush years: the Bush tax cuts carried over for the rich and incredible subsidies for big business. Every single jobs bill proposed by the Democrats has been squashed, talks about increasing the minimum wage have been met with scorn by the Republicans and even the tax holiday that the lower and middle income families enjoyed could not be carried over because the Republicans would not even talk about a fair tax rate for the most wealthy.

In other words, we have done nothing to increase demand yet bend over backwards to appease the supply side (of course, that's because it the supply side - big corporations - that pay for the Republican party).

I imagine that we'll never know what kind of president Obama could have been since the top Republicans met on the evening of his first inauguration and took a vow to block each and everything that he and the Democratic party brought to the table. With district gerrymandering firmly in place, I don't see anything changing in the next two years.

Contango

Re: "To say that we've been under Keynesian Economics for the past six years is simply not true."

If there hasn't been 'pump priming,' (Keynesian economics) then why is the federal debt at $17T and climbing?

BTW: The Repubs took over the House in Jan. 2011, NOT 2010.

Contango

Re: "It's Economics 101 - put more money in the hands of the lower and middle income families and they'll spend it."

No, that's bastardized Keynesian economics.

Besides, Pres. Obama locked in the Bush middle and lower class tax cuts.

We are a nation of spenders; China for example is a nation of savers.

As of Oct. 2013, they owned $1.3T of our debt because we as a nation are spending beyond our means.

We pay them interest on that money and the rate continues to rise.

Contango

Re: "The owners tell us that they're not issuing raises because they're uncertain of the U.S. economy."

Like most corps., they're probably holding onto cash because they got caught without it during the last credit crisis.

H*ll, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has a cash reserve of around $40B. Why isn't he spending it?

deertracker

Maybe people wised up about the real meaning of Christmas or they just don't have the money.

thinkagain

To a Liberal, Christmas has no meaning. They believe the real messiah was born in 1961 and Sodom and Gomorrah is the liberal’s idea of heaven. Where they will receive 72 unborn babies to butcher.

sugar

lol!

bondgirlM

amen!!!!

toredown11

Yes, thinkagain, all of us liberals are nothing more than heathens out for your women and children!

arnmcrmn

But wait, deer and coaster said the economy is booming. They say it over and over again, so it must be true.

Back to reality once again for you too. Its 2013 and we live in a world where Christ has all but been taken out of Christmas, but in your world for some reason, everyone just woke up this year and said "lets spend Christmas different this year and focus on the true meaning". Only in your sad world would you try and make this up. How do you sleep at night kid.

Darwin's choice

And maybe, you should realize that the incredible failure of Obama is the reason for the stagnant economy. Sorry, failing economy! Sign up for obamafail yet? Today is the last day for January coverage.

Erie County Resident

Even considering the Obama economy is in the crapper starting their "Holiday Sales" 4 months before Christmas might actually have a detracting outcome. Start having Christmas sales on Labor Day weekend just doesn't work to good does it .. ROFLMAO!!! (Waiting for the 4th of July party tray flyers to come out this week)

JudgeMeNot

"Made in China" is the label you’ll find on many Christmas gifts this year.

Dr. Information

Truth is and all the media has reported this. The only reason GDP slid up in Q3 is because retailers where stocking up and hoping people would buy buy buy this season. It aint happening folks.

The only jobs Obama has created are government jobs and part time burger flippers. Hang your hat on that load of crap.

Contango

But...but how can Pres. Obama claimed to have created jobs, when Fed Chair Bernanke is giving the Fed credit?

"That being said, I'm pretty comfortable with the idea that this program (QE) did in fact create jobs.

I cited some figures. To repeat one of them, the blue chip forecast for unemployment in this current quarter made before we began our program were on the order of 7.8 percent.

And that was before the fiscal cliff deal, which created even more fiscal headwinds for the economy. And of course, we're now at 7 percent.

I'm not saying that the asset purchases made all of that difference, but it made some of the difference, and I think it has helped create jobs."

- Fed Chair Bernanke, 12/18/2013

And Pres. Obama did WHAT precisely in order to create jobs?

Dr. Information

If the company I worked for had their own money printing press, I'm sure they too could have kept hiring people also.

Cut the federal funding of 85 billion a month and watch everything talespin out of control. The government has everyone that isn't paying attention fooled. It's unsustainable.

toredown11

Merry Christmas everyone. I'd love to stay and debate but it's time to enjoy my family. I hope you all have a happy and safe holiday.

Darwin's choice

Merry Christmas to you also! Be safe in any Holiday travels!

Stop It

whaaaa..greed loses a little bit this year? Take it from Capitol Hill. That's where it all went.