Here’s the latest on holiday shopping from the Associated Press:
NEW YORK – Holiday shoppers spent a little more this season, according to data released Monday, giving merchants some reason for cheer.
The spending bounce means retailers managed to avoid a repeat of last year’s disaster even amid tight credit and double-digit unemployment. Profits should be healthier, too, because stores had a year to plan their inventories to match consumer demand and never needed to resort to fire-sale clearances.
Retail sales rose 3.6 percent from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24, compared with a 3.2 percent drop in the year-ago period, according to figures from MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse, which track all forms of payment, including cash.
Adjusting for an extra shopping day between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the number was closer to a 1 percent gain.
Online sales were a particular hot spot, fueled by a big increase the weekend before Christmas. They rose 15.5 percent on the season, though they make up less than 10 percent of all retail sales.
One worrisome sign: Merchants are facing big hurdles to lure shoppers back in January amid lean inventories and what appear to be weak gift card sales. Gift card sales are recorded only when they are redeemed.