Holiday 2012 Retail Sales Disappointing...but Wait!
In Massachusetts and across the country, retail sales grew at a fraction of the rate analysts were expecting this holiday season. Retail executives and industry experts had high hopes for consumers in 2012. The National Retail Federation projected a just-over-four percent increase in sales from last year during the two months leading up to Christmas. In Massachusetts the increase was expected to be closer to 3-and-a-half percent. But Ryan Kearney of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts says so far, sales have grown less than one-percent. He says consumer confidence has been building since the Great Recession four years ago. But severe weather and anxiety about the looming so-called "Fiscal Cliff" may have slowed that momentum.
"It's not anything we've seen since 2008, but any growth is positive. We'd like to see a little bit more but it's not an end-all for retailers. It's not like there was a shrinkage."
Marketing director for the Holyoke and Hampshire Malls -- Lisa Ray -- says it's too early to tell. That's because consumers do a lot of shopping in the days leading up to New Year's. She calls the week after Christmas, "redemption week."
"It is an important part of our year--not only for Holyoke Mall gift card and Hampshire Mall gift card sales, but also for the individual retailers that offer gift cards. People coming in and buying things they might not have received from Santa Claus -- it's a huge week for us."
Ray says apparel sales are slowly regaining strength at many shops in both malls. And she says electronics and shoes have also sold well.