Monday, December 31, 2012
Report: Consumer spending less than anticipated this holiday season
Spending hit the lowest level since 2008.
Spending during this year's holiday shopping season fell well short of expectations, dropping to its lowest levels since 2008, according to Mastercard's SpendingPulse.
Across the country, spending increased by 0.7 percent, falling short of many analysts' predictions that spending would increase by at least a couple of percentage points.
While the news made headlines nationally the day after Christmas, it came as no surprise to many local retail workers, including Lori Lee, manager at the Wink store at The Shops at Willow Bend, which specializes in women's shoes and accessories.
Even traditionally customer-heavy days like Tax Free Weekend and Black Friday were slow, and the store's post-Christmas BOGO sale found few takers, Lee said.
"Before, we would have to stock everything and make sure everything was perfect, and then afterwards [we would be] staying overnight, cleaning the store," she said. "Now, it's kind of like a regular Saturday."
Lewisville-based Wink has seven locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Four years ago, Lee said, business was booming at the store's Collin Creek Mall location. However, 2009 and 2010 saw business die down dramatically before an upswing in 2011.
The relief proved to be short-lived, though the Firewheel Mall and Vista Ridge Mall locations fared much better this year than those at the Plano malls.
"For [Willow Bend], it just seems like people are here for what they want and then they're out," she said. "Normally, we get people that are kind of walking through the store to see what they can get, but this year ... they barely walked around the mall, at all."
Meanwhile at Collin Creek, Regina Shrestha, a sales associate at Sassy Tees and Tops, said the store has been marking down items to bring in more money after an unusually slow holiday shopping season.
"People do not want to spend a lot of money," she said, adding that economic fears may have caused some shoppers to hesitate this year. "They're just looking at the sale rack. ... A lot of people are just looking."
Amy Medford, marketing and sponsorship director for The Shops at Willow Bend, said the mall as a whole saw a strong holiday season this year and expects to continue its 11-month run of sales increases in December.
"Stores surveyed were trending up mid-single digits this past week, on average," she said. "There was still a lot of self-purchasing with people taking advantage of all of the sales, particularly in the junior category of apparel. Inventories look about where they should be for now -- starting to thin in many sizes and items. ... Some stores say that transaction counts were down, but the average purchase price was higher."
Not all local retail employees noticed a downward shift in shopper traffic. Naomi Martinez, a sales associate at Bloom, a women's apparel retailer at Collin Creek Mall, said her store appeared to fare better in terms of foot traffic compared to some other stores at the mall, though she feels the mall did well overall.
"They actually had some little events going on in the middle of the mall, so that brought more people in," she said, adding that extending mall and store hours also boosted interest. "They had a raffle going on and giveaways, so I think that helped out the mall a lot."
Mercedez Pequeno, another sales associate at Bloom, said the holiday rushes continued through the day after Christmas.
"They still want to come in and get items, and since there are still sales going on everywhere the day after Christmas, people were like 'OK, let's go shopping,'" she said. "They've got Christmas money, so that's what they do."
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