Retailers Offered Bigger Holiday Discounts Than Last Year As Sales Slowed

Date: December 29, 2015

Weekend Before Christmas Said To Log Declining Sales; Overall Holiday Retail Sales Up 7.9%

Reuters reported that according to MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse data, between Black Friday and Christmas Eve this year, US retail sales excluding gasoline and automobiles rose 7.9%, better than the 5.5% growth seen during the same period last year. Meanwhile, online sales rose 20%.

The AP reported that discounts on items ranging from jewelry to clothing were bigger this holiday season than last year, according to a Market Track study of weekly circulars from 11 major retailers from November 1 through December 20. In the final days leading up to Christmas, the heaviest discounting was occurring online, where Market Track found that “220 of the season’s hottest products online in cookware, desktop computers and toys are now selling up to 40 percent below their” Black Friday prices. The AP attributed the deepening discounts as the holiday season progressed to retailers’ need to compete with Amazon and with each other.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that retailers were struggling to meet modest sales forecasts this holiday season, after the weekend before Christmas, including “Super Saturday”, proved to be relatively weak this year. Sales declined 6.7 percent over the weekend before Christmas compared to last year, according to RetailNext, which tracks Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and other large retailers and specialty stores. While in-store traffic has declined, Forrester estimated US households would spend 11 percent more online this year than last year, reaching $95.5 billion.

What This Means For Small Businesses

News of higher retail sales may indicate 2015 will end on a more positive note for some small businesses. Some of the slowdown in sales in the days leading up to Christmas may have been a reflection of the growing popularity of shopping on Christmas Day itself, USA Today reported. Changing consumer patterns at large retailers may affect small businesses as well, if not this holiday season than in the next.

Additional Reading

USA Today also reported on MasterCard’s holiday sales data.

Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.

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