Driven by heavy promotional activity and a strong finish to the year, total net sales for the 23 retail chains tracked by RetailSails rose 5.6% in December 2011 as compared to the previous year, reaching $54 billion for the month. Same-store sales in December rose 3.6% year-over-year, marking the 28th straight monthly gain after 12 consecutive months of decline.
However, only 15 of the 23 chains reported comparable gains for the month, down from 16 in November, and 19 the previous December.
Apparel and accessories stores posted the largest gains, jumping 4.9% year-over-year. Discount and variety stores (4.2%) also posted strong growth, while department stores rebounded from a disappointing November (+0.4%) to rise 3.5%. Drug stores lagged behind with 1.3% year-over-year growth.
Meanwhile, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Index, retailers ended December on a strong note, with weekly retail sales rising by 1.2%. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales rose to 5.3%, the strongest pace since the week ending July 11, 2010. For December, ICSC now expects that same-store sales will increase by 4-4.5%.
Online Holiday Season Spend Hits Peak
comScore reports that retail e-commerce spending for the entire November-December 2011 holiday season reached $37.2 billion, marking a 15% increase from last year and setting a new peak for the season. 10 individual shopping days surpassed $1 billion in spending, led by Cyber Monday, which ranked first for the second consecutive year, at $1.25 billion. In 2010, just 1 day reached the $1 billion mark.
According to RetailSails, total holiday season chain-store sales increased 4.9% to $90 billion, with comparable store sales rising 3.4% following a 4.2% increase in 2010.