Holiday sales weak for many big retailers
BY KYLE ARNOLD World Staff Writer
Thursday, December 27, 2012
12/27/12 at 7:26 AM
Retailer Adam Vandenburg says he had a great Christmas shopping season at his Trek Bicycle Store in south Tulsa while his downtown venture, Lee's Bicycles, recorded modest sales.
So went the important holiday season for many local and national retailers. Early analyses show mixed results, with disappointing sales for brick-and-mortar stores as online shopping took a greater slice of holiday revenue.
"Companywide we're tracking this year to be up for December," Vandenburg said. "It's single digits, but up."
Many national retailers would welcome Vandenburg's results. A survey released Wednesday by MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse showed that national in-store and online spending during the eight weeks before Christmas rose a disappointing 0.7 percent from a year ago. That's even lower than the modest 2 percent increase last year.
In fact, online sales were up 11 percent this year, meaning in-store shopping took a significant hit.
The estimates, which track all forms of payment, are especially disappointing after industry groups predicted that sales would rise 3 percent to 4 percent.
Vandenburg said he saw increased sales in high-end purchases for men and across the board for women's merchandise. Sales of children's bicycles also did well, as usual, he said.
Moody's Jewelry saw increased traffic but more cautious consumers this year, said Kevin Moody, vice president of the Tulsa-based retailer.
"Last year we had a few more really big spenders," he said. "This year there was a little bit more conservative feel to the business."
Still, Moody said, engagement rings sold strongly, as did traditional holiday favorites such as diamond stud earrings.
Moody said the higher quantity of sales pushed up revenue this year, even with a smaller average sales ticket. This year the store added Rolex watches, which were popular and showed that high-end buyers were still out there, he added.
Retailers hope the last week of the year closes out the holiday season in a good way. ShopperTrak, a mall traffic counter, expected Wednesday to be the fifth-busiest shopping day of the season in terms of people in stores, and the seventh-busiest for sales.
Many customers run to stores in the days following Christmas to cash in gift cards and spend cash presents, and to make exchanges.
J.C. Penney Co. at Tulsa Promenade was already seeing big crowds before lunch on Wednesday, said Mike Capps, a manager at the store.
"In our particular store, we took markdowns on 25,000 units just as we closed the store on Christmas Eve," Capps said. "We've got people all over digging through our clearance racks."
Plano, Texas-based J.C. Penney is in the midst of a rebranding effort that involves lowering average ticket prices and reducing the number of blockbuster markdowns.
Having fewer sales has translated into smaller sales as customers adjust to the new strategy, but Capps said the store did surprisingly well during the holiday season and is expecting big sales in the coming week.
"There's nothing like post-Christmas sales to get everyone back in the shopping mood," he said.
Projected busiest shopping days of 2012
1. Friday, Nov. 23 (Black Friday)
2. Saturday, Dec. 22 (Super Saturday)
3. Saturday, Dec. 15
4. Saturday, Dec. 8
5. Wednesday, Dec. 26
6. Sunday, Dec. 23
7. Saturday, Nov. 24 (Black Saturday)
8. Friday, Dec. 21
9. Sunday, Dec. 16
10. Saturday, Dec. 1
Original Print Headline: Some retailers get lump of coal
Kyle Arnold 918-581-8380
Shoppers walk through the aisles of J.C. Penney Co. at Tulsa Promenade on Wednesday. ShopperTrak, a mall traffic counter, expected Wednesday to be the nation's fifth-busiest shopping day of the season. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
Customers wait in line at customer service in J.C. Penney at Tulsa Promenade on Wednesday. Retailers hope the last week of the year closes out the holiday season in a good way. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World