Retail spending rose this year in the holiday season more than even optimistic forecasters expected. After rising 4 percent for the 50 days before Christmas in 2009, it rose 5.5 percent in the same period of time in 2010. That came after the 6 percent free fall during the kickoff to the recession in 2008 — and this year saw better numbers than even 2007. Spending was up in almost every category, according to MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, which tracks retail spending. From the Times:
The rise was seen in just about every retail category. Apparel led the way, with an increase of 11.2 percent. Jewelry was up 8.4 percent, and luxury goods like handbags and expensive department-store clothes increased 6.7 percent. There was even a slight increase in purchases of home furniture, which had four consecutive years of declining sales. The figures include in-store and online sales, and exclude autos.
And we know auto sales have been up toward the end of the year — naturally, because everybody got a Lexus for Christmas!