This might not surprise anyone, but it turns out even the steep price cuts retailers used to entice consumers wasn’t enough to offset the sputtering North American economy. This holiday season – which typically accounts for around 30 to 50 per cent of a retailers total sales, was a bust that rippled across every retail sector. According to preliminary data released by SpendingPulse – a division of MasterCard, total retail sales slipped 2 to 4 per cent. While the electronics sector’s slip of 26.7% sounds substantial, it can’t even hold a torch to luxury item’s such as jewelry which sank almost 35%.
On a more positive note, online retailer Amazon.com said its 2008 holiday sales were its “best ever”. The retailer reportedly received orders for over 6.4 million items. This is good news for Amazon, and helps to back up claims from SpendingPulse’s which showed that more and more, consumers are making the switch to shopping online. Overall online sales declined a meager 2.3 percent from the previous year, however this is in stark contrast to 2007 when e-commerce grew almost 22.4 per cent. With big name brick and mortar retailers such as Circuit City already facing bankruptcy, weak holiday sales might see even more blood shed in the retail sector come January.
The clock is ticking, and the boxing week picture is not yet clear, but it remains to be seen what if anything will put retailers back in the black.
(Image Credit: Wall Street Journal)