MasterCard Survey: Holiday Sales Up 3.6%

Dec 27, 2007 1:10 AM  By

Retail sales for the time between Black Friday (Nov. 23) and Dec. 24 grew by a seasonally adjusted 3.6% over the same period in 2006, according to MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse.

The macro-economic report, which tracks retail sales nationally, analyzed the electronics, specialty apparel, e-commerce, and luxury products sectors. All categories experienced a surge in growth on Black Friday, a lag in the middle of the season, and a rally to the finish line.

“Overall, sales came in just above the lower end of the range we were expecting, maintaining the slower, modest growth we’ve been seeing throughout the year,” Michael McNamara, MasterCard Advisors’ vice president of research and analysis, said in a statement.

McNamara said that most industry observers had adjusted their sights down, “but anyone who was looking for this holiday season to kick-start a new wave of growth would find these numbers falling short of expectation.”

SpendingPulse data suggests that the high cost of gasoline could have eaten into other spending. Gas prices during the 2007 holiday shopping period ranged between 30% and 35% higher than the same period in 2006.

But the price of gas, along with severe weather in many regions of the country, may have helped energize e-commerce sales. “Disruptive weather events can potentially prevent consumers reaching brick and mortar locations,” McNamara said.

E-commerce was the strongest category, showing an overall year—over-year growth rate of 22.4%. The channel had a strong start to the season, posting growth in the 30% range on Black Friday, and saw a Cyber Monday growth of 40%.

Another area of strength was the luxury category, encompassing high-end department stores, apparel, leather goods, and restaurants. Luxury goods (excluding jewelry) posted a 7.1% rate of growth over 2006, tempering a little from its mid-season gain of 10.8%.