MasterCard Advisors: Advancing Momentum Produced Solid Holiday Sales

According to the MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse survey of national retail and services sales, the 50-day holiday period measured from November 5 through December 24 enjoyed overall season-over-season growth of 5.5%.
The growth posted, which excludes automobile sales, indicated that consumer spending continued to show progress compared to the same period in 2009, MasterCard Advisors noted.
The sales momentum generated in 2010 holiday season appeared to have begun gaining traction as early as the second week of November, producing a month of solid growth and persisting through the traditional early December lull, the SpendingPulse survey demonstrated.
“If last year’s holiday story was about gaining some stability, this year’s is about getting back to growth,” said Michael McNamara, vp/research and analysis for SpendingPulse. “The 2010 holiday period is categorized by strong year-over-year growth in apparel and continued strength in ecommerce. We also saw a noticeable return in spending in the larger ticket items, as exemplified by the solid growth in jewelry, luxury and even the furniture category.”
The ecommerce category had a particularly good holiday season 2010, gaining 15.4%. Inclement weather in parts of the country, particularly the West, may have given online sales a boost, MasterCard Advisors noted.
In contrast, electronics experienced growth of only 1.2% over the 50 days versus last year’s period. After several seasons of intense flat panel television and notebook computer selling, price pressure seems to have depressed dollar sales in critical product categories. While the commoditization of flat panels had an impact on televisions, the advent of tablet computers seems to have hurt notebook and netbook sales. Observers and even Best Buy executives speaking in a conference call cited as a reason consumers were holding off purchasing laptop devices.