A little less “Ho! Ho! Ho!” amongst Christmas retailers


Early Data Show Weak Holiday Sales

By Shelly Banjo | December 25, 2012, 5:57 p.m. ET

The annual holiday shop-a-thon drew to a muted close for many retailers, according to preliminary data, reflecting what some experts said was the slowest growth in spending since the 2008 recession.

For the eight weeks from Oct. 28 through Christmas Eve, retail sales for the holidays rose just 0.7% from the year before, according to MasterCard Inc.’s SpendingPulse unit.

After falling 5.5% in 2008, holiday sales rebounded strongly in 2009 and 2010, and rose about 2% last year, according to the company’s data, which are based on sales activity in the MasterCard payments network and estimates for all other forms of payment, including cash and checks. The figures exclude restaurants and sales of automobiles, groceries and gasoline.

This year, “it’s a lost season,” said Michael McNamara, Spending Pulse’s vice president of research and analysis. “Sales and volume are about the same as last year, but the growth was marginal.”

More at the link.

A significant part of the loss was attributed to a steep decline in sales in the mid-Atlantic states hit by Hurricane Sandy. However, it was also noted that online sales, which had been posting consistent double-digit gains every year, grew by a more modest 8.4%.

Your Editor suspects that there will be commentators on both the right and the left, trying to blame the lowered growth rates on politics, whether on the public’s impression that the economy will not be helped by the re-election of President Obama or fears concerning the so-called fiscal cliff, but the drag in the region hit by Hurricane Sandy lowered the total growth rate, and is sufficient to explain the decline.


  1. Should this uncertainty in the minds of Americans be a surprise when the dysfunctional Republicans intentionally destabilize the fiscal cliff threat by refusing to deal with President Obama and the Dems.

    Ironically, having lost the Presidential and Senatorial parts of the 2012 General Election, the House Tea Party Republicans remain the most powerful political element in the country, and second, the Senate Republicans with their power of the filibuster.

    These unpatriotic Republicans are posed to further destabilize our nation by once again using their debt ceiling threat once again, the last time resulting in a reduction in our credit rating and further instability.

    Somehow these Republicans have the cockamamie idea that they help our nation by further destabilizing it economically.

    Now granted, we have a serious national debt problem which must be addressed, but these Repubs are hardly being rational in their approach.

    So far, President Obama is doing all the compromising: Revenue increase cut from $1.6T to $1.2T by restoring Bush tax cuts to those earning up to $400K, cut future SS CoL increases, no extension of payroll tax cuts, increase spending cuts from $600B to $930B.

    Boehner also wants to increase the Medicare age of eligibility from 65 to 67. Our Editor won’t like this one bit.

    The President also wants the power to raise the debt ceiling. Recall that the debt ceiling refers to spending already approved by Congress.

    Why do Republicans behave in an uncompromising behavior like this?

  2. I noted that THE WALL STREET JOURNAL pointed out the very obvious reason for the decline: Hurricane Sandy — which you’ll probably blame on George Bush — had a major impact on consumer spending in the mid-Atlantic states, and that dragged down the overall national numbers, so naturally you blame it on the mean ol’ Republicans.

    The Social Security retirement age has already been raised to 67; I approve of that, and would also approve of raising the Medicare age to 67.

    I would guess that this Congress will lapse without taking action on the “fiscal cliff;” they’ll simply run out of time. The next Congress may address it.

  3. Pardon me, but this “fiscal cliff” is simply sharp, enforced austerity – which is precisely what you have been advocating as necessary to deal with the deficit.

    If this austerity is something to be concerned about, then why have you been advocating austerity elsewhere? If cutting spending on weapons is bad for the economy, how can cutting spending on food stamps and education be good for it?

  4. What is your point, Phoe? I pointed out, in the main article, that the reason for the smaller gain in consumer sales wasn’t political at all. I never complained about the fiscal cliff at all, and have, in fact, said that we’d be better off taking it.

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