Most retail sectors experienced year-over-year growth in February 2010, according to MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse.
Weather Freezes Apparel, Heats Up E-commerce
Severe snowstorms hurt apparel sales in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and North Central regions, resulting in a total 1.8% drop in sales for the sector on a year-over-year basis. Women’s apparel drove the decline with a 1.6% drop in sales compared to February 2009. Both men’s apparel and footwear were up 5.7% and 2.2% respectively, from February 2009. Apparel sales moderately grew 0.6% in January 2010.
E-commerce sales appear to have benefited from poor weather during the month, experiencing a strong 16.7% year-over-year growth. This was the seventh straight month e-commerce showed year-over-year growth, suggesting weather alone is not boosting its performance. SpendingPulse research shows the average price of an online transaction dropped 3.7% compared to last year, likely due to increased consumer willingness to make small purchases online.
“This (e-commerce) sales channel continues to outperform traditional brick-and-mortar stores as consumers shift more of their purchasing online,” said Michael McNamara, VP, research and analysis for SpendingPulse.
Tight Inventory Aids Other Channels
Spending Pulse data indicates tight inventory levels helped spur growth in the luxury (excluding jewelry) and consumer electronics sectors, despite poor weather. Luxury sales increased 15.2% in February 2010, following strong increases of 8.1% in January 2010 and 5.5% in December 2009.
Meanwhile, consumer electronics sales grew 5.8% in February, the sixth straight month of growth in this sector. In January 2010, consumer electronics sales rose by a more modest 0.4% in January 2010.
Weather Dampens Chain Store Sales Less than Expected
Inclement weather last month also did not stop the Chain Store Index compiled by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and Goldman-Sachs from moderately improving on a year-over-year basis.
Despite this generally nasty weather, February 2010 chain store sales held up better than expected. The Chain Store Index for the week ending February 27 was 486.4, up 0.7% from the previous year but down 0.8% from the previous week. The Index for the week ending February 20 was 490.4, up 0.9% year-over-year and up 2.3% weekly. For the week ending February 13, the Index reached 479.5, a 0.7% year-over-year drop and 1.6% weekly drop. And for the week ending February 6, the Index hit 487.1, up 1.8% year-over-year and 1.4% weekly.
E-commerce Sales Show Improvement
E-commerce sales are displaying a growth trend, according to recent data from comScore. Retail e-commerce sales totaled about $39 billion in Q4 2009, representing 2% growth compared to $38.1 billion in Q4 2008 and 32% growth compared to $29.6 billion in Q3 2009, and following three consecutive quarters of negative growth.
Retail e-commerce sales dropped 7% in Q3 2009, 9% in Q2 2009, and 10% in Q1 2009. For the entire year, retail e-commerce sales remained flat at $130 billion, buoyed by the relatively strong fourth quarter performance.
About the Survey: MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse is a macro-economic report tracking national retail and service sales.