Mastercard (MA) says holiday sales rose only 3% this year over last year (Click Here). This would confirm what I observed on my shopping adventures on Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday I ventured out to the 3 mln sq ft Palisades Mall expecting total retail mayhem, but easily found a parking space and the ability to pick up the few last minute items that I needed with ease. A variety of retailers from SHLD and WMT to TGT to ANF to COH are all lower today.
If there's anytime of the year when the consumer is going to pull out the stops and spend, it's during the December holiday season, yet they mustered the ability to spend just 3% more than the year before. If that doesn't point to a hangover from years of over reliance on home equity and plastic, then what does?
There's still time for retailers to salvage the season with big sales this week (though margins will be crunched). And if all else fails, the first quarter can be salavaged by turning Groundhog Day in Feburary into some sort of mega-retailing event!!