SpendingPulse: Holiday Sales Grew 5.5%

Retail sales grew 5.5% between Nov. 5 and Dec. 24 compared to the same 50 days in 2009, according to MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse, a macroeconomic report tracking national retail and services sales.

“If last year’s holiday story was about gaining some stability, this year’s is about getting back to growth,” said Michael McNamara, vice president-research and analysis for SpendingPulse, in a statement.

Ecommerce showed the biggest growth, with seasonal sales up 15.4% . With online sales representing significant share of sector sales in areas such as apparel, the double-digit growth rates are becoming more meaningful, McNamara said.

Total apparel was a strong performing category, with 11.2% growth over the 2009 holiday season. Mens apparel reached double digit growth weighing in at 10.5% year-over-year. The women’s apparel category grew by 5.6%, which McNamara said made for one of the best periods of growth in this subcategory since the financial market turmoil in 2008.

The apparel category was down by 0.4% during the 2009 season.

After a mild start, Jewelry posted several weekly year-over-year increases and ended the season up 8.4%. Luxury, minus jewelry, started the season with a solid gain and then picked up steam, and ended with season-to-season growth of 6.7%.

The electronics category was one of the lagging performers, with 1.2% season-to-season growth. The flat to modest growth rates posted by the category throughout the holiday season could be due to the decline in TV prices, making it difficult for the sector to produce significant year-over-year growth.

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