MasterCard Advisors: Q4 sales momentum continues into January

NEW YORK — January saw strong growth across most retail categories, continuing the positive performance from fourth quarter 2010, albeit at a slightly slower pace, according to MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, a report on national retail and services sales that is based on aggregate sales activity in the MasterCard payments network and survey-based estimates for such payment forms as cash and check.

With the January closing of the retail year, sectors that were up for the year outnumbered those that were down by a ratio of 3-to-1. However, even among those which were up for the year, about half have yet to reach their pre-recession peak levels of 2006 and 2007.

“A combination of rising consumer demand and strong pricing continued to drive retail sales in January,” said Michael McNamara, VP research and analysis for MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse. “Although less robust, the trends we observed were similar to those recorded in the fourth quarter of 2010. Most sectors continued to post positive year-over-year results during the month despite consumers taking a pause in spending and repeated snow storms affecting the East Coast.”

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