Holiday Apparel Sales 2010: So Far, It’s Looking So Good

Reports are already coming in about the commencement of the holiday shopping season having signs of a “solid start” across the board, leaving many cautious retail outlets heaving an early sigh of relief. As many others in the industry had anticipated, the consumer reaction to the start of the season’s sales has been positive, with signs of a healthy year-end on the horizon. Here are the highlights, as experts predict the outcome of the event, and early numbers help shape the trends today.

Mastercard Advisors’ SpendingPulse has issued a report deeming the early holiday shopping season to be off to a “solid start” in most retail categories. This report covers total payments in retail sales, across all payment forms.

Critical Black Friday sales were strong, giving retailers a boost for the year as November closed with indications that consumer buying behavior has not shifted entirely away from the retail environment.

Promotions that have been available as early as Halloween are being heralded as the cause for the drive last month, with large companies such as Sears advertising Black-Friday style “Door Busters” and other deals every weekend of the month. Store hours were also a factor, as they were extended to allow the capture of late shoppers making their purchases. Wal-Mart and Target were also following similar models for the pre-season buildup.

In apparel, a 9.6% gain for apparel sales made its impression felt. Women’s clothes surged ahead with 3.9% gain, but not nearly as noteworthy as the boost Men’s clothing showed, with a reported spike of 7.2% to show for shopping activity.

Interestingly, the relatively small gain in Women’s categories was consistent with the past two months of recorded gains, while the Men’s clothes category came as a bit of a surprise. Previously, there had been a decline in this area since October.

Experts are pointing out that weak sales for the past two years have had a psychological effect on shoppers,making this the year for people to cast aside their inhibitions, and treat themselves after being more frugal than normal since 2008. Signs of consumer spending speeding up has been the sign retailers were waiting for.

Online sales, on the other hand, have been exceedingly good.; The apparel industry has seen a tremendous leap from last year, due in part to new and easily accessed mobile apps, but mostly owing to increased spending on Internet marketing.

US chain store retailers were, on the whole, expressing satisfaction over the results of this last sales jump, and many are beginning to see the need for a last-minute restocking move to keep supply in order for the anticipated surge during the next few weeks.

Retailers in apparel were also able to see a rise in the purchase of luxury apparel items, and accessories. The most noteworthy point is that these items were also sold very nearly at their full price. The trend seem to b headed towards luxury items being bought in person, while bargain goods and discounted products are being turned over to online sales.

A lot of the best sales were made during Thanksgiving Day holiday, as these numbers helped push totals toward goals that felt more like 2007, not 2010. Luxury and apparel retailers reported some of the sharpest gains for the second month in a row.

Author:  Rueben Marley

Based out of China since 2006, Rueben Marley has a unique and first-hand perspective on what's shaping the industry today. Learn more about Rueben's career by visiting his Linkedin profile at

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