Forbe's does a decent job of cheer leading without actually lying:
On the surface, it appears sales have been
reasonably strong, with the National Retail Federation (NRF) reporting November sales up 3.9% against last year and expectations that the season will net out at or above the trade association’s holiday forecast, which was also for 3.9% growth. These numbers exclude automobiles, gas station and restaurant sales. On the surface, this is very good news for retailers and consumers alike, as retailers pulled out all their promotional stops, and consumers hopped on board to grab the deals.
According to the U.S Census Bureau sales report the most robust year-over-year gains were seen in big ticket sellers like electronics and appliance stores (+8% over last year), and furniture and home furnishing stores (9.4% over last year). That means chains like Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Best Buy and hh Gregg have had a top-line feast. My take on this is that the rebounding housing market is driving high-value purchases for the home. When you realize you’ve actually got some equity in your home again, it’s exciting to go out and buy something to put in it.
The most anemic increases were seen by general merchandise stores (think Target).
Directly contrast that with:
While the most well-heeled shoppers still think nothing of dropping $4,600 on an Hermes tote, cracks have appeared in the $94 billion U.S. luxury market, especially for companies that cater to “Henrys” -- High Earners Not Rich Yet. Coach Inc. (COH) has said customers plan to spend less on gifts and that mall traffic fell sharply last month. Analysts predict Nordstrom Inc. (JWN)’s fourth-quarter sales may grow less than half the year-ago pace of 6.1 percent. Tiffany & Co. (TIF)’s third-quarter comparable sales in the Americas were barely higher. Even before Black Friday, Saks Inc., Neiman Marcus Group Inc. and Nordstrom offered 40 percent off on many brands.
And trite it may be but the weather sucks. It will make a difference in a short season.