The Union Recorder

December 31, 2012

Stores see a slight shift in holiday shopping this season

From staff reports
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE —  

Holiday shoppers gave retailers a mild Christmas shopping season this year with only a slight increase in sales, according to national reports. American shoppers spent just under $750 on average on their holiday purchases this year, with a record percentage of shoppers buying online, according to new estimates from the National Retail Federation. The figure is up only slightly from the nearly $741 spent last year.  

In the days leading up to Christmas, U.S. retail sales only increased 0.7 percent. Shopping analysts blame the bad weather, low spirits following the aftermath of the Connecticut shootings and worries about the fiscal cliff for putting a damper on shopping for the 2012 holiday season. 

Consequently, because fewer people chose not to go out to shop, online retailers received the biggest shift in numbers. According to the NRF, online spending totaled almost $38.7 billion, up 16 percent from the same holiday shopping period from last year. 

The Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) released new data on statewide holiday spending on Tuesday. According to the GCUA, 96.7 percent of Georgians spent the same or at least 0.4 percent more than they had spent on holiday purchases last year.

Additional money may also pour into stores from day-after Christmas sales. The day is typically filled with people returning gifts in exchange for something more suited to their tastes. A majority of customers in Belk opted for store credit as opposed to exchanging the unwanted items for another gift of equal value. 

This year’s slight rise in holiday spending is the smallest since 2008-2009 when holiday sales fell 1.8 percent after the financial meltdown, according to the NRF.