FirstData: Strong holiday — but some retailers left in the cold

Despite disappointing results from some retailers, overall holiday sales are shaping up to be in line with industry projections.

That is according to First Data’s “Holiday 2016 SpendTrend” study, which reported retail spending increased 3.6% during the holiday period, in line with the National Retail Federation’s forecast. When non-retail spending (including travel, restaurants, beverages and leisure) is in included in the mix, consumer spending rose 4.7%, according to First Data. (The report is based on First Data proprietary transaction data and includes only actual card-based forms of payment across online and brick-and-mortar channels.)

The biggest winner was online, where sales rose 12%, accounting for 21.3% of all holiday spending, up 15.4% from last year. Other winners included electronics and appliances which saw significant growth this year, up 8.5% overall compared to being down 2.2% during the holidays last year.

But as the report makes clear, not all retailers had a happy holiday. Department stores were down 4.8% overall, while clothing and accessories saw modest growth of 0.1%. Women’s ready-to-wear retailers saw a decline of 3.7% in year-over-year growth.
Overall brick-and-mortar growth was up slightly, posting 1.6% year over year, with the growth primarily driven by spending in the West and Midwest regions of the United States. The Southwest experienced a decline in growth rates as it was down 0.6% in retail spend, data showed.

“Consumers were actively spending this holiday season however, retail stores had mixed results, with some categories posting high growth rates while others lagged behind,” said Rishi Chhabra, VP, information and analytics at First Data. “We continue to see a strong shift to online shopping, and were impressed with the significant growth in e-commerce transactions. More and more, shoppers are opting to stay home to avoid the crowds and make purchases on their own time.”

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