Holiday shopping finishes strong

By on January 3, 2014
Inland Empire Starts 2014 with a Bang.002

National retailers had reason to celebrate as the Christmas shopping season drew to a solid close, with the prospect of even more sales into early January.

Sales were up one percent for the week ending Dec. 28 compared with the previous week, and up three percent compared with the same week in 2012, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Index.

The index was released Tuesday.

Retail activity was “brisk” during the days leading up to Christmas and the last days of holiday shopping immediately after, said Michael Niemira, the council’s chief economist and vice president of research, in a statement.

Now the focus will shift to gift card redemption. The average U.S. consumer this year spent a record 23.7 percent of their total holiday shopping budget on gift cards, according to a tracking survey by the council and Goldman Sachs.

“This is good news because it means that the ‘extended season’ – the week after Christmas into January – will play an important role in the final tally of the season’s performance,” Niemira said.

The council is predicting that December sales will be up three to four percent compared with 2012, mostly because of strong promotions nationwide.

In September the council predicted a 3.4 percent year-to-year increase in sales for the entire Christmas shopping season, which was shorter than usual this year because Thanksgiving fell on Nov. 28. An increase of three percent is a considered a solid, but not outstanding, holiday season.

Galleria at Tyler in Riverside is still crunching its sales numbers, but the regional shopping mall clearly had a good Christmas season based on the amount of traffic it generated, said James Fuson, the mall’s senior general manager.

“People are definitely still buying,” Fuson said Thursday. “The store owners we’ve been talking to are either meeting or exceeding their sales goals.”