December 27, 2005

CHRISTMAS RETAIL SALES look to have been pretty good, according to this article (subscription-only) from the Wall Street Journal. Excerpt:

Holiday spending climbed 8.7% ahead of last year, according to SpendingPulse, a retail-sales data service from MasterCard International’s MasterCard Advisors unit. Demand for flat-panel television sets, MP3 players and digital cameras helped spur gains, as did sales of home furnishings. But sales of jewelry fell this season following years of solid gains.

I blame that last on Jonah Goldberg’s relentless criticism of lame jewelers’ ads. But here’s the bigger news:

Online spending continued to explode this year, as retailers offered Web-only discounts and shipped gifts later than ever. Holiday retail sales on the Internet are expected to top predictions of $19.6 billion in sales this year, a figure that is 24% ahead of the $15.8 billion consumers spent online last holiday season, according to comScore Networks Inc., a Reston, Va., market-research firm.

I seem to remember some talking heads pooh-poohing online sales last week. Sounds like they were wrong.

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt notes that this is an embarrassment for some.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Kevin Crosby sends this Reuters story, which is much more negative:

Online retailers’ shares fell in the first trading day after Christmas, as some said sales during the holiday shopping season were slower this year than in the past.

As Kevin notes, it would be nicer if we knew who the “some” were. The story also says that oil prices fell, dragging down the stock market. I’ve noticed that when oil goes up, it’s called bad for the market, and when oil goes down, it’s called bad for the market. Obviously, it should always stay exactly the same price. . . .