Weak ’09 Drives Strong March ’10 Sales Results

April 13, 2010

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Data-driven | Financial Services | Household Income | Retail & E-Commerce

Poor U.S. retail industry performance in March 2009 helped drive positive year-over-year sales growth in most retail sectors, according to MasterCard Advisors‘ Spending Pulse.

E-commerce, Luxury Grow Sales by Double Digits
E-commerce sales rose 18.4% compared to March 2009, the sector’s eighth straight month of double-digit sales increases. In February 2009, e-commerce sales grew 16.7%, aided by heavy snowstorms in much of the country.


Meanwhile, luxury sales posted the highest year-over-year sales gain of any sector, 22.7%. However, SpendingPulse data indicates that in March 2009, the luxury sector experienced a double-digit sales drop.

Luxury sales increased 15.2% in February 2010, following strong increases of 8.1% in January 2010 and 5.5% in December 2009.

Early Easter Aids Apparel
Specialty apparel sales increased a solid 5.2%, with strength across the board as every subsector posted positive year-over-year gains. Some of the strength in this category may be attributed to an earlier Easter this year, pushing much of the pre-Easter spending into March.

Overall electronics sales were up 4.9% year-over-year, posting a strong growth of 6.8% in the Appliance sub-sector and a gain of 4.5% year-over-year for consumer electronics sales. Tempering this, it is important to note that this sector is still down 4.2 % when compared to March of 2008.

“Prices maintained their levels as inventories continued to be aligned with demand and retailers did not seem to have had to resort to discounting in order to drive traffic during the Easter shopping season,” said Michael McNamara, VP, research and analysis for SpendingPulse.

Warm Weather, Easter Boost Chain Store Sales
Warm weather and the impending Easter holiday drove strong chain store sales performance during the last two weeks of March 2010, according to the Weekly Chain Store Sales Snapshot compiled by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and Goldman-Sachs.

The Chain Store Index for the week ending April 3 was 512.7, up 4.7% from the previous year and up 2.1% from the previous week. Apparel, department and discount store traffic drove this increase, with the one-week shift in the Easter holiday as a primary cause.

For the week ending March 27, the Chain Store Index was 502, up 3.2% year-over-year and 0.6% from the previous week. The Index was 499.2 the week ending March 20, up 3.7% year-over-year and 0.1% from the previous week. During the week ending March 13, the Index was 498.9, up 3.2% year-over-year but down 0.4% from the previous week. That week (ending March 6), the Index was 500.7, up 3.4% year-over-year and 2.9% from the previous week.

Easter Sales Expected to Rise
Consumer spending for the April 4, 2010 Easter holiday was expected to mildly improve from 2009, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF) and BIGresearch.

The NRF predicted average Easter spending per person of $118.60, up 1.7% from 2009. Total spending was expected to reach $13.03 billion, a 2.3% increase from $12.73 billion in 2009.

MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse is a macro-economic report tracking national retail and service sales.

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