Holiday profit seen higher as U.S. stores limit deals

More Creative

Retailers have become more creative in part to cope with a season that was expected to be sluggish on the demand side. ICSC, a New York-based trade group that tracks more than 25 chains, repeated that it expects sales at stores open at least a year to climb 3 percent in November and December, slower than the 3.3 percent gain last year. The group maintained its projection that comparable-store sales for December, set to be released Jan. 3, increased 4 percent to 4.5 percent.

Retail sales grew by 0.7 percent from Oct. 28 through Dec. 24, MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse said Dec. 24. Sales gained at a 2 percent pace in the same period a year earlier. SpendingPulse, based in Purchase, New York, tracks total U.S. sales at stores and online via all payment forms.

Sales in the week ended Dec. 22 fell 2.5 percent from a year earlier and foot traffic dropped 3.3 percent, ShopperTrak, a Chicago-based retail researcher, said today in a statement.

“It’s going to be a harder season than last year,” said Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, a New York consulting firm.

Sandy Spending

Consumers in the Northeast had to divert spending to pay for basics after Hurricane Sandy, and concerns about the fiscal cliff weighed on consumers’ mood, she said. Other shoppers are no longer willing to max out credit cards, ushering in a “new era of moderate spending,” she said.

Yet while they may be disappointed by the demand, retailers have worked “magic” in adjusting pricing and inventory, Corlett said.

“Retailers have built a formula that is working for them,” she said. They are “understanding their shoppers and knowing the boundaries within which they can sell to that shopper.”

Bloomberg News

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