FINANCE

Report: U.S. retail sales rise 3.5% during holidays

BY Dan Berthiaume

Purchase, N.Y. – U.S. retail sales reportedly rose 3.5% between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24, 2013 compared to the same period in the prior year. According to data from MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, sales of holiday-related categories, such as clothing, electronics and luxury goods, rose 2.3%, after rising 0.7% in 2012.

The categories of jewelry and children’s apparel showed the strongest sales improvements, while men’s and women’s apparel performed the poorest compared to the previous year. Electronics and non-jewelry luxury items reported flat sales. Discounts reportedly helped fuel holiday sales growth.

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FINANCE

ICSC: Holiday sales up 1.4% week ending Dec. 21

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — Weekly sales rose by 1.4% for the week ending Dec. 21, 2013. According to figures from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and the Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Index, on a year-over-year basis, the pace of sales also improved and grew by 2.7%.

For December, ICSC Research expects monthly sales will increase between 3% and 4% as the promotional environment continues to be intense.

“Consumers reported in the ICSC-GS consumer tracking survey that the average holiday-gift completion rate rose to 83.5% through Sunday, close to last year’s 84% at a comparable time, which is good news for retailers and the industry,” said Michael Niemira, ICSC VP of research and chief economist.

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OPERATIONS

Report: Federal hearings on Target breach possible

BY Dan Berthiaume

Washington, D.C. — Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) reportedly may seek federal hearings on the recent data breach at Target. According to the Associated Press, Menendez said in a press conference held outside a Jersey City, N.J. Target store that he has also requested the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate whether it can levy fines against Target and whether laws protecting sensitive consumer data need to be strengthened.

Menendez reportedly said he does not think the FTC can currently assess any fines. The FTC did not fine T.J. Maxx for a similar data breach that occurred in 2006 and was resolved with a settlement agreement. The Department of Justice and Secret Service are both investigating the breach and at least three class-action lawsuits have been filed against the retailer, seeking more than $5 million in damages.

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