FINANCE

Report: December same-store sales expected to rise 4.3%

BY Staff Writer

New York City — Wall Street analysts expect retailers to report a healthy end to the holiday season, fueled by discounts, improved consumer sentiment and such tactics as extended hours and layaways, Reuters reported.

Twenty-two major chains, from Macy’s Inc. to Costco Wholesale Corp, are likely to post an aggregate 4.3% increase in December same-store sales according to Thomson Reuters.

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FINANCE

ComScore: Holiday online spending up 15% to $35.3 billion

BY Marianne Wilson

Reston, Va. — Consumers spent some $35.3 online from Nov. 1 through Dec. 26, up 15% from last year, according to ComScore Inc.

“Holiday e-commerce spending has remained strong throughout the season, and we have now reached a record $35 billion in U.S. online sales for the season-to-date," said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. "We can now say with certainty that the $1.25 billion spent on Cyber Monday will rank it as the heaviest online spending day of the season for the second consecutive year, but we should also note that it was accompanied by nine other billion dollar spending days this year."

One of the interesting e-commerce phenomena occurring over the past several years is the dramatic increase in Christmas Day purchases of digital content and subscriptions, a retail category that includes digital downloads of music, TV, movies, e-books and apps. Not surprisingly, as many consumers get new smartphones, tablets, e-readers and digital content gift certificates for Christmas, they spend Christmas Day loading up their devices with new content.

On an average day during the 2011 holiday season-to-date (Nov. 1 – Dec. 26), the digital content category accounted for 2.8% of retail e-commerce sales, but on Christmas Day the category accounted for more than 20% of sales.

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ARG: Holiday credit-card debt to drive down January and February sales

BY Marianne Wilson

Charleston, S.C. — January post-holiday sales will plunge to some of the lowest levels in years thanks to a surge in credit card spending over the Christmas season, according to consumer research firm America’s Research Group (ARG).

"Now that those credit card bills are hitting mailboxes, shoppers will cut back in a very significant way relative to January and February of the last few years," said Britt Beemer, chairman, ARG.

According to Beemer, Black Friday was so big that Americans in record numbers, with 43.8% saying that they exceeded their spending limits.

“These numbers are much higher than the 15% and 16% that signaled major drops in credit card usage that we’ve seen in the last couple of years. Americans now face the challenge of bigger credit card debt until they get their income tax refunds – but, regardless, spending levels will drop for at least the month of January as the sticker shock hits big-time,” Beemer said.

"The other reason for the suddenly higher credit card debt, according to Beemer, is the increase in online spending which is totally credit driven.

“It was 10 points higher – it went from 16% to 26%,” he said.

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