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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Holiday Jewelry Sales Up 8.4%, Luxury Sales Up 6.7%, Total Holiday Sales Up 5.5%

After a mild start, jewelry posted several weekly sales increases and ended the 2010 holiday shopping season with a year-over-year increase 8.4 percent, according to MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse. Meanwhile, luxury sales (excluding jewelry) started the season with a solid gain and then picked up steam, ending with a very respectable year-over-year growth of 6.7 percent.

During the 50-day period (from November 5 till December 24), the data showed overall year-over-year growth of 5.5 percent, excluding auto 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. “The 2010 holiday period is categorized by strong year-over-year growth in apparel and continued strength in e-commerce. 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.”

McNamara said the momentum in 2010 holiday season spending appears to have started as early as the second week of November, producing a month of solid growth and persisting through the traditional early December lull.

“The cold weather across much of the country in December appeared to be a positive for the apparel sector,” McNamara said. “While there was some disruptive weather in the Midwest and the west coast toward the end of the season, the conditions did not seem to negatively impact the national sales momentum. In some cases the weather may have also benefited the e-commerce channel.”

As with last year’s holiday season, e-commerce was the big winner this year, with seasonal sales up 15.4 percent. With online sales representing significant share of sector sales in areas such as apparel, the double-digit growth rates are becoming more meaningful.

Apparel sales for the season saw a year-over-year increase of 11.2 percent, according to SpendingPulse, with menswear posting a 10.5 percent year-over-year increase and women’s apparel up 5.6 percent, making for one of the best periods of growth in this subcategory since the financial market turmoil in 2008, according to SpendingPulse. For the 2009 holiday season, apparel sales were down by 0.4 percent.

Meanwhile, it was electronics sales that lagged this holiday season with a year-over-year sales increase of 1.2 percent, due primarily to the decline in TV prices.

A macroeconomic indicator, SpendingPulse reports on national retail and services sales and is based on aggregate sales activity in the MasterCard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for all other payment forms, including cash and check. SpendingPulse is provided by MasterCard Advisors, the professional services arm of MasterCard Worldwide.

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