Retailers report higher December sales
NEW YORK (AP) — A last-minute surge in spending may have saved Christmas for stores.
Major retailers such as Costco and Nordstrom today reported better-than-expected revenue in December. That comes as a relief for stores that can make up to 40 percent of their annual revenue during the winter holiday shopping period that runs from November through the end of December.
Consumers had a lot to worry about this holiday, including cleanup after Superstorm Sandy and the possibility of the U.S. economy falling off the "fiscal cliff," triggering a massive budget cuts and tax increases that would mean much less money in Americans' pockets. But after spending cautiously during most of the season, they loosened their purse strings in the final shopping days.
"I wouldn't be doing cartwheels that it was particularly great or strong holiday season, but it could have been worse given the headwinds," said Ken Perkins, president of RetailMetrics, a research firm. "The government and Mother Nature were not as cooperative as retailers would have liked. But it was definitely not as bad as feared."
Twenty retailers reported that revenue at stores open at least a year — a figure that indicates a retailers' health — rose an average of 4.5 percent in December compared with the year-ago period, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. That's on the high end of the expected range of 4 percent to 4.5 percent.