December 26, 2008

Retailers go ‘from ‘Ho-ho’ to ‘Oh-no”

MasterCard Inc.'s SpendingPulse said U.S. retail sales declined in November and December from a year ago, in spite of falling gasoline prices.

Including gasoline sales, but excluding automobile purchases, sales fell 5.5 percent in November and 8 percent in December from the first of the month through Christmas Eve, MarketWatch reported Friday.

Excluding gasoline, sales dropped 2.5 percent in November and 4 percent in December, the report said.

While gasoline prices have dropped 40 percent from a year ago, there has been a major contraction in consumer spending, Vice President of Research at MasterCard Advisors Michael McNamara said.

The International Council of Shopping Centers is predicting the worst holiday shopping season ever as consumers have focused on necessities, rather than frills, the report said.

Luxury spending this holiday season fell 34.5 percent as retailers went from 'Ho-ho' to 'Uh-oh' and 'Oh-no,' Mary Delik, at consulting firm Deloitte LLP, told MarketWatch.