January 16, 2011

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Holiday Spending Record Not As Good As It Looks.

This past season’s revenue marked a 5.7 percent increase over holiday 2009. That’s the strongest gain since 2004. While encouraging, that doesn’t mean shoppers have recovered from the loss of $11 trillion in household wealth. From consumers’ perspective, the economy hasn’t improved dramatically from last year, as credit remains tight, unemployment hasn’t budged below 9 percent, and home values are still depressed. Consumer confidence is hovering at the same level as a year ago and well below the point that signals a stable economy. . . .

In several categories, spending on gifts fell short of shoppers’ 2007 outlay. In 2010, consumers spent $50.7 billion on clothing and accessories like shoes and scarves; in 2007, that figure was $51.3 billion even before adjusting for inflation. Holiday revenue at department stores was $45.3 billion last year, much less than the $50.4 billion that traded hands in 2007.

Read the whole thing. It’s better than last year, but it’s not exactly “Happy days are here again.”

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