U.S. Holiday Retail Sales Grew Almost 4%

New York City

Overall U.S. retail sales for the 2007 holiday shopping season grew by 3.6% over the same period in 2006, MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse reported Wednesday. The SpendingPulse report analyzed spending across the electronics, specialty (apparel), ecommerce and luxury sectors.

“Overall sales came in just above the lower end of the range we were expecting, maintaining the slower, modest growth we’ve been seeing throughout the year,” said Michael McNamara, VP of research and analysis the for the financial consulting firm.

“Most industry observers had adjusted their sights down, but anyone who was looking for this holiday season to kick start a new wave of growth would find these numbers falling short of expectation,” he said.

Ecommerce was the strongest category, outperforming all other categories, according to the report. The channel had a strong start to the season, posting online sales increases of 40% on Cyber Monday, Nov. 26. This strong early showing contributed to an overall growth rate of 22.4%.

The luxury category, which encompasses high-end department stores, apparel, leather good and restaurants, was also a strong sector. The category, minus jewelry, posted a 7.1% sales increase compared to 2006.

Electronics opened the season with a surge of 15% growth on Black Friday. Consumer spending slowed by mid-season, contributing to a modest overall growth of 2.7%.

Overall specialty apparel was up a modest 1.4%. Men's apparel was up 2.3%, and footwear was up 6%. Meanwhile, women’s apparel had the worst showing this holiday season, with sales dropping 2.4% this year, the report said.

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