NEW YORK While retail sales for November and December were below predictions, according to reports, analysts are predicting the week after Christmas to help a lot of retailers mitigate the shortfall.
Michael McNamara, vice president of research and analysis for MasterCard Advisors, expects that retailers will ring up as much as 17 percent of their December sales—$60 billion—in the last week of the month. Of that, estimates by the National Retail Federation say $26.3 billion could be in gift cards alone. “Over the last five years, the post-Christmas week has become much more important because of gift card redemptions,” McNamara told CNN.
This is good news, especially since some early tallies this week from ShopperTrak and MasterCard Advisors said final holiday sales came in short of the NRF’s 4 percent year-on-year forecast—at 3.6 percent growth.
Retailers do not count profits made on the sale of gift cards until they are redeemed, however, which is why post-Christmas shopping can be so important to their bottom line. Many chains started advertizing their post-holiday clearance sales on Dec. 26, including Wal-Mart, which lowered prices on clothing, toys, electronics and home and kitchen products. “December 26 begins that new phase of the holiday shopping season,” chief economist for the International Council of Shopping Centers Michael Niemira told CNN. “Gift cards have transformed the holiday-shopping landscape and they have extended holiday shopping well past Christmas Day.”