Retail Forward sees stronger spending in 2010

Columbus, Ohio Retail same-store sales excluding Wal-Mart increased 3.0% in December as shoppers gave a particular boost to apparel spending during the holidays, Retail Forward said Thursday.

The sales-weighted composite for the 32 retailers reporting -- most of them apparel retailers -- was better than the 0.9% same-store sales gain last month and the 4.1% decline in December 2008 for the same measure calculated without Wal-Mart. Including Wal-Mart, same-store sales were down 1.5% in December 2008.

“The trend through the holidays is now pretty clear that shoppers are moving toward stronger spending into 2010. But it’s also clear that some cautiousness will persist and that spending will remain uneven across categories and retailers,” said Frank Badillo, senior economist at Retail Forward, a Kantar Retail Co.

December’s results were led by stronger than average results at apparel and accessory stores, according to Retail Forward. Results at department stores lagged, although they posted a composite gain. Food, drug and mass retailers reported composite results close to the average.

In terms of competition from online retailers, Amazon.com weighed heaviest on sales at stores while online performance was mixed among other online retailers, according to Retail Forward’s ShopperScape results. More than half of all households shopped for holiday gifts at Amazon.com -- an eight percentage point gain compared with 2008. Meanwhile, the rate at which Amazon converted shoppers to purchasers held steady (72%) despite the increase in shoppers.

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