Jewelry Sales Up For Holiday Season

Jewelry sales rose 5.6 percent this holiday season, with both the high and low ends of the category showing marked strength, according to the SpendingPulse 2009 Holiday Wrap-Up Report from MasterCard Advisors. 

Overall luxury spending (minus jewelry) finished the season more with a slight increase of 0.8 percent over the 2008 holiday season. 

MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse

Some six out of ten sectors showed positive growth in the period from November 1 through December 24. Tempering these results, however, is the fact that there was an extra day this year over last year’s holiday season. Adjusting for this could decrease the season’s year over-year-growth statistics by anywhere from 2 percent to 4 percent.

"Overall this year, we have seen increasing stability in spending, as opposed to the free-fall of 2008," said Michael McNamara, vice president, research and analysis for SpendingPulse, to the press. "This is especially significant considering that prices have been holding up this season, without the broad emergency discounting that consumers benefited from during the 2008 holiday season."

McNamara pointed to several anomalies in the season this year. "The extra shopping day may have given some lift to overall year-over-year comparisons. Also, early discounting in 2008 drew holiday spending into early November, while this year shopping didn’t really take off until Black Friday. That shift in sales patterns is one of the factors that made November of this year look weak, and December look stronger. That’s why it’s important to look at numbers for November and December combined. Finally, several major winter storms disrupted traffic to brick-and-mortar locations that seemed to benefit online shopping growth rates."

SpendingPulse analyzes the electronics, specialty (apparel), e-commerce and luxury sectors. End-of-season highlights are as follows:

* E-commerce was the big winner this year, with seasonal sales up 15.5 percent during the period November 1 – December 24. Since Black Friday, e-commerce sales were up 18 percent. This sector has shown year-over-year improvement every week since the beginning of the season, with double-digit growth in all but one of those weeks.

* Specialty apparel made something of a recovery, finishing down only 0.4 percent for the season to date beginning on November 1. Since Black Friday through December 24, the category is actually in positive territory, showing a 2.3 percent year-over-year gain. However, the extra shopping day helped the sales growth rates.

* Women’s apparel sales were down 0.3 percent for the season to date beginning on November 1. Taking a Black Friday to December 24 view, this category also finished the season in slightly positive territory, up 1.5 percent, but again benefiting from the additional shopping day.

* Men’s apparel continued to show strength in the two weeks prior to December 24, bringing the November 1 – December 24 season’s year-over-year growth up 3.9 percent. Footwear sales have likewise improved, ending with an increase of 5 percent over the November – December period of last year.

* After a strong November, electronics sales began to slow down in the first two weeks of December. A spike in the week prior to December 24 helped the category finish the season up 5.9 percent for the November – December period and up 6 percent in the Black Friday to December 24 period.

* After a volatile two months, jewelry ended the season up 5.6 percent, with both high and low ends of the category showing marked strength. Again the extra shopping day helped the year-over-year growth rate. Although the luxury retail ex-jewelry category showed some weekly improvement throughout December, it finished the season more with a slight increase of 0.8 percent over the 2008 holiday season. Luxury is another category that would have been lower without the additional shopping day this year.

SpendingPulse reports on national retail and service sales and is based on aggregate sales activity in the MasterCard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for certain other payment forms, such as cash and check. MasterCard SpendingPulse does not represent MasterCard financial performance. SpendingPulse is provided by MasterCard Advisors, the professional services arm of MasterCard Worldwide.