US retail sales at the beginning of the holiday season were slow. Sales were impacted by continued unseasonably warm weather that delayed purchases of fall apparel as well as a shift in consumer buying patterns. Online shopping too has contributed to a decline in sales at brick-and-mortar stores as consumers get more and more comfortable shopping over the internet.
Holiday sales constitute nearly a fifth of the retail industry’s annual sales. Sales increase this holiday season is expected to be 3.7 per cent compared to the 4.1 per cent growth reported last year. The year-over-year decline is attributed to slow jobs growth, pressure from deflation on retail sales and increased consumer spending on services rather than goods.
There has been a 4.8 per cent decrease in comparable store sales for the month of November. Total monthly sales declined 1.2 per cent from the prior-year month. The entire shortfall in November comparable sales occurred during the first two and one-half weeks of the month. Sales improved to flat last year for the remainder of the month and positive in early December. Consumer confidence in the US unexpectedly saw a substantial deterioration in November mainly due to a less favorable view of the job market.